Meerkat {Suricata suricatta}

Meerkat is a South African Dutch word meaning 'lake cat' since Meerkats are often found near stretches of water

South Africa WildlifeMeerkat / Suricate {Suricata suricatta}

Suricates spend a lot of their time on guard, looking out for predators. (Meerkat is a South African Dutch word meaning 'lake cat' since Meerkats are often found near stretches of water).

Suricates have a tan to grey coat with brown bands on the back and sides, the head and the throat are greyish white.

Their eyes are ringed with black and they have black rounded ears and a black tip to the tail. Like all mongooses, they have long slender bodes and short limbs.

Quick Facts

Size

Length: 25-35cm, Tail: 17-25cm

Weight

600-975g

Habitat

Savannah. Distribution: Southern Africa (Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Botswana).

Diet - Omnivore

Insects, spiders and other small animals, roots and bulbs.

Socialisation

Suricate (Meerkats) are diurnal. They live in colonies of up to 30. The groups consist of 2-3 family units comprising a male, a female and their 2-5 young. They usually inhabit the burrows of ground squirrels, which they enlarge by digging with their sharp claws. When emerging from their burrows in the early morning, they tend to sunbathe before spending the day foraging for small prey.

Adults take it in turns to stand on sentry, finding a convenient vantage point where they can watch for predators, such as eagles. If danger is sighted, the sentry gives a warning bark, and the meerkats flee to the safety of their burrows. If the threat is a snake, the adults will huddle together and drive the predator away. While sentries keep watch, other meerkats take care of the young.

Reproduction

The females give birth to 2-5 young in a nursery chamber of the burrow.

Gestation

Gestation is 11 weeks.

Life Expectancy

12 to 14 years in captivity.

Predators

  • Jackals
  • Eagles
  • Badgers
  • Wild cats
  • Many others
!

Meerkat Conservation Status

  • Least Concern

South Africa's Big Five

Did you know?

Adult Meerkat take it in turns to stand on sentry, finding a convenient vantage point where they can watch for predators, such as eagles.

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