Meerkat | Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior, & Facts

Meerkat is a small mammal of the mongoose family. Meerkats became famous thanks to the Animal Planet TV show Meerkat Manor which followed several meerkat families in the Kalahari Desert. The scientific name of meerkat is suricata suricatta.

Where do Meerkats live?

Meerkats live in the African Kalahari Desert in the countries of South Africa and Botswana. They dug vast networks of underground galleries, where they spent the night. These tunnels have many holes to escape from predators.

Do Meerkats live in a group?

Yes, they live in large family groups called clans, mobs or gangs. The number of meerkats in a clan can vary in size. They usually have about 20 members, but sometimes up to 50 members. Clans work together to help each other. One or two meerkats will search for predators while the others will forage for food. If the watchers spot a predator, they will issue a warning and the rest of the family will quickly hide into the underground burrow.

In each clan, there is a pair of alpha meerkats leading the group. Alpha pairs usually have the right to mate and produce offspring. If other members of the clan spawn, the leader pair usually kills the young and may drive the mother out of the clan.

The Mob’s Territory

Each group of meerkats will have a territory that they will mark with their scent. It is usually about four square miles. They will not allow another group or mob of meerkats into their territory and will fight them if necessary. They move around their territory every day in search of food in different places.

What do Meerkats eat?

Meerkats are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. They mainly eat insects, but they also eat lizards, snakes, eggs and fruit. They can even eat poisonous prey like scorpions because they are immune to their poison. Since they do not have much body fat, meerkats need to be eaten daily to maintain energy.

Why do Meerkats stand up so straight?

Generally, sentinels, or sentinels, stand upright on their hind legs using their tails for balance. This is so it can climb as high as possible in search of predators.

Interesting Facts about Meerkats

Meerkat predators include snakes, jackals, and birds of prey.

The burrows they dig are good for protection, but also help them cool off from the hot desert heat.

Their brown and tan plumage helps them blend into the desert and hide from predators like eagles.

If the group feels threatened by a predator, they will sometimes try to harass or attack the group. Although they usually run, they can be fierce warriors when needed.

Timon in Disney’s The Lion King is a meerkat.

The whole family, including the father and siblings, will help take care of the newborn meerkats.

They are considered a type of mongoose.