Meerkat

Scientific Name: Suricata suricatta
Irish Name: Míorchat
IUCN Status: Least concern
Meerkats are a member of the mongoose family. They have tan and grey coats with dark brown patches around their eyes and at the tip of their tails.

Meerkat

Meerkats are a member of the mongoose family. They have tan and grey coats with dark brown patches around their eyes and at the tip of their tails.

General Information

Where do they live? (Natural habitat)

Meerkats live in arid deserts and grasslands of southern Africa.

How long do they live?

Meerkats can live from 12-15 years.

What do they eat?

A meerkats diet is primarily insectivore with some other items, including scorpions, reptiles such as lizards, birds and some plant material.

Group name

Family groups are called gangs or mobs. Multiple familial groupings of meerkats are called packs.

Zoo location

Inside the Meerkat Restaurant

Closest related species / sister species

Mongoose

Animal class

Mammalia

Animal order

Carnivora

Fun facts

Desert dwellers

Meerkats are well adapted to the desert and get much of their hydration from the roots and tubers they eat.

Nose to the ground

Meerkats have very sensitive noses that are adept at turning over soil and sniffing out food.

Toxic tastes

Meerkats have a daring diet and can eat venomous scorpions and snakes.

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Family Life

Meerkats live in family groups with only the alpha female and male breeding. All group members cooperate to raise the alpha pair's young. Pups are born helpless and in a burrow, where they are cared for by other group members.

Baby name

Baby meerkats are called pups.

Gestation (pregnancy) period

Gestation is 11 weeks.

Number of young at birth

Litter size is 2-4 pups.

Weight at birth

Pups weigh roughly 25 to 36 grams at birth.

Age at maturity

1.5 years

Size adult

Meerkats average approximately 731 grams in weight. Their head and body length usually ranges between 25 and 35 cm. Their tail adds 17.5-25 cm to the total length of the animal.

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Conservation

IUCN status

The meerkat is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation in Nature.

Current population estimate

Unknown, no exact figure currently available.

Threats

There are no major threats to the species.

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FAQs

  • What do meerkats eat?

    Meerkats eat insects, arachnids including scorpions, reptiles such as lizards, birds and some plant material.

  • Where do meerkats live?

    Meerkats live in arid deserts and open country in western parts of southern Africa.

  • What is a group of meerkats called?

    A group of meerkats is called a group or a mob.
  • Are meerkats rodents?

    Meerkats are not rodents and are members of the animal order Carnivora.

  • How long do meerkats live?

    Meerkats live for 12-15 years.
  • What sound does a meerkat make?

    A meerkat “barks,” which sounds similar to a prolonged growl.
  • Are meerkats endangered animals?

    According to IUCN, meerkats are not currently endangered, they are considered of Least Concern.

  • How do meerkats adapt to the desert?

    Meerkats adapt to the desert by being very good at digging to escape the sun, and also are adapted to get most of their water from their food.
  • How do meerkats protect themselves?

    Young, male meerkats take shifts as sentinals, protecting the group from predators. Meerkats also have very sharp claws and can move very quickly.
  • Are meerkats friendly to humans?

    Young, male meerkats take shifts as sentinals, protecting the group from predators. Meerkats also have very sharp claws and can move very quickly.
  • What are the meerkat's predators?

    Predators of meerkats include larger carnivores and birds of prey including eagles, hawks, hyenas, and jackals.

  • What is a meerkat's natural habitat?

    Meerkats live in arid deserts and open country in western parts of southern Africa.
  • Are meerkats nocturnal?

    Meerkats are dirunal, meaning they are active during the daytime.

  • Are meerkats smart?

    Meerkats have complex social interactions, and these interactions show a particular form of cooperative intelligence.
  • How long are meerkats pregnant?

    Meerkats are usually pregnant for about 11 weeks.
  • Can meerkats climb trees?

    Meerkats have long, sharp claws that can be used for climbing trees.
  • Do meerkats swim?

    The desert does not have much water, and as such, meerkats do not typically swim.

  • How do meerkats hunt for food?

    Meerkats hunt for food by foraging in groups, digging and using their sense of smell.
  • How fast do meerkats run?

    Meerkats can run at speeds up to 32km/hr.
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