Suricata suricatta - The Meerkat

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

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.

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.

Size

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

Weight

600-975g

Habitat

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

Distribution

Meerkats are cute and entertaining, so look out for them when visiting some of the South African game parks. They can be found in the Kruger National Park (which is close to Nelspruit in Mpumalanga), Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve (Northern Cape), and the Addo Elephant National Park (an hour outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape).

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

Walk with Meerkats

To witness these delightful animals first hand, accompany Grant McIlrath on his walks with Meerkats and let him introduce you to these personalities on the plains of the African outback as pink sunlight lifts or falls over their small silhouettes.

Meerkat 'whisperer' Grant is a research biologist who has habituated a small group of wild Meerkat for the benefit of conservation and science. See Walk with Meerkats for additional information and contact details.

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Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

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Where to see Meerkat in their natural habitat?

Conservation Status
Meerkat
Least
concern
South Africa's Big 5

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