The meerkat, or suricate, is a small mammal that belongs to the mongoose family. The scientific name for meerkats is Suricata suricatta. Meerkats come in many different types and species and tend to live in different places. The Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa is one of the places where Meerkats live most of the time.
Here, we’ll talk about the animal in enough detail so that you can get a good idea of the different parts. One important thing to know about the meer cat is that a group of them is called a “gang” or “mob.”
Description: What Does A Meerkat Look Like?
So, what is a meerkat? People can learn a lot from the details about how meerkats look. The total length of a meerkat is usually between 25 and 35 centimeters. The tail is also part of this. The meerkat’s tail alone is about 17 to 25 centimeters long, which is a very interesting fact. Also, unlike some species of mongoose, meerkats don’t have bushy fur. The tail of a meerkat is long and very thin. Aside from that, it tapers to a black or reddish tip that is usually pointed in nature.
The male meerkats weigh about 731 grams, which adds up to about 1.61 pounds. The average weight of a female meercat is about 720 grams, which is about 1.58 pounds. When meerkats stand up on their hind legs, they reach a height of about 30 centimeters or about 12 inches. A big difference between meerkats and mongooses is that meerkats tend to be slimmer and have pointier noses. Most meerkats have silvery brown fur and dark stripes that go in different directions on their bodies. Also, some types of meerkats have rumps that run in different ways on each type.
The fact that there are no marks on the bottom of a meerkat is an interesting fact. But the meerkat has a patch on its belly, and that patch also has hair growing in it. Before hair grows, the skin turns black. This is where meerkats go when standing on their back legs to ensure the heat is absorbed properly. Most of the time, this happens early in the morning after a cold night.
Meerkats have white faces with dark spots around their eyes. These dark markings help block the sun’s bright light. The ears of meerkats are shaped like a crescent, so they can close properly when they are digging. So the sand won’t get in their ears.
The feet of meerkats have 5 toes, which is different from the feet of mongooses, which have only 4. Because their eyes are right in front of their faces, they can see both at the same time, just like cats. Not only that, but they can also see in three dimensions and have a pretty big field of view in the periphery.
The meerkat’s body shows that it is a smaller, daytime-living herpestid. The meerkat’s tail isn’t really bushy. Instead, it has a long, tapering part that ends at a point. When the meerkat is standing straight up, it uses its tail to help it stand upright. A meerkat’s nose is mostly brown in front, and its eyes can close properly to keep sand from getting in them.
Do Meerkats Make Good Pets?
Also, meerkats tend to blink over and over to get the sand out of their eyes. Another important thing to know about the suricate is that their paws have nails that are pretty strong. The main reason for these nails is to make sure they can break the rocks in the right way.
It also makes it easier to dig. Even more surprising is the fact that their jaws have 36 very sharp teeth that help them tear meat apart in the best way. Because of this, meerkats are not really thought of as good choices for pets.
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What Do Meerkats Eat?
So, what does the meerkat eat? Meerkats eat mostly insects, but they will also eat small reptiles, mammals, or scorpions. They eat many different things, but mostly insects.
Meerkats are small animals that grow up to be about a foot tall and weigh up to two pounds. They are in the same family as mongooses and live in big groups called mobs. They can smell things very well. This, plus the fact that they can dig so well, lets them eat their favorite foods:
- Reptiles: small lizards and snakes
- Plant matter, including roots and tubers
- Fruits and seeds
- Birds: small or young birds
- Mammals: small or young rodents
- Insects: caterpillars, termites, crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, and beetles
Meerkats like to eat bugs of all kinds, but they are not picky eaters and won’t turn down a meal if it’s offered. But they won’t try to eat anything too big. Instead, they prefer to dig for food.
The fact that meerkats are thought to be burrowing animals is a very interesting thing about them. This means that they tend to live in underground networks with different ways of getting in and out. The daytime is when these animals leave. People also think that the animals are very social because colonies of about 40 meerkats live together. Some of the meerkats in this group will groom each other to strengthen their social bonds.
There is also an alpha pair in the group; they mark their subordinates with their scent to show that they are in charge. After these things happen, the subordinates lick the alphas as a sign of respect. This is how meerkats usually act.
Also, these things are often done when some group members tend to get back together after being apart for a while. It is common for the children of the dominant pair to become the group’s members. This is an important fact that you don’t want to miss. This means that most of the members in each group are related.
People have seen meerkats act in ways that are helpful to others, and this is true even within their own colonies. This means that one or more meerkats will actually keep an eye out while the rest of the group plays and looks for food.
The meerkat on the lookout is responsible for making sure that the other meerkats know if something dangerous is coming. When meerkats see a predator, they usually bark to warn others. So, the other members of the gang will run away and hide in the bolt holes or burrows they have made.
How Do Meerkats Defend Their Group?
The meerkat in the sentry will also be the first animal to come out of its burrow and watch out for danger. They bark all the time to make sure the other members stay underground and out of harm’s way. If there is no danger, the meerkat on the sentry will stop barking, and the other meerkats will be able to leave their safe place.
Meerkats also tend to look after their own babies and young meerkats who are part of the group. Female meerkats who haven’t yet had their own babies often start lactating to feed the babies of the alpha pair. This is a very strange example of this phenomenon. The older meerkats are also responsible for looking out for, the younger ones. Most of the time, these meerkats put their own lives in danger to protect their young.
The babysitter meerkats take their jobs pretty seriously, so they tend to be the most responsible of the whole group. Here’s one more important point. Meerkats also like to do different things with other members. The meerkats often run races and wrestle with each other when they are in groups.
Even though helping each other is pretty normal for meerkats, they often act in ways that go against this. One way they do this is when they kill the younger individuals. Some of the subordinates in the groups also tend to kill their alphas’ children and the more senior members.
When we talk about how meerkats have babies, there are a few things you need to know. Meerkats usually become sexually mature at about one year of age. On average, each litter of meercat babies has three babies. Wild meerkats that live in groups also have three separate litters a year. One interesting thing about meerkats is that they are iteroparous, which means they can have babies at any time of the year.
But most meerkat babies are born in the summer when it is warmer. Several reports have shed some light on what meerkats do before they mate. In this way of doing things, the male meerkats would fight with the females until the female gave up. Then they will start to make babies. The pregnancy lasts for about eleven weeks, and the babies are born in burrows.
Young meerkats’ ears take about 10 days to open up fully. The eyes open after 14 days, and the young are ready to eat solid food after 49 to 63 days. But until they are 3 weeks old, the young meerkats can’t leave their burrows.
Habitat: Where Do Meerkats Live?
The most common place for meerkats to live is on the African continent, especially in sandy desert areas. The Kalahari desert is where meerkats live most of the time. Botswana is where this desert is found.
Also, the deserts that cover most of Namibia are known to be where meerkats live. Some types of meerkats that live in these deserts are called “desert meerkats.” Even though South African Meerkats also live in these areas. The third type of meerkat, called the Angolan Meerkat, is different from the other two. This kind of meerkat lives in Angola, which is where its name comes from.
IS A Meerkat A Cat Or A Dog?
The meerkat is not related to cats, despite what its name might imply. Like weasels, meerkats are in the mongoose family. Small, terrestrial, carnivorous animals are part of the Herpestidae family, which includes the mongoose.
Are Meerkats Friendly?
While meerkats are generally sociable while young, they can transform into the “pit-bulls” of the mongoose world by the time they are 6 months old. Because it has been imprinted on humans and is now of age to defend its group, the ‘pet’ meerkat views visitors as threats.
Are Meerkats A Rodent?
Are meerkats rodents? They are not rodents and belong to the Carnivora family of animals.
Are Meerkats Aggressive Towards Humans?
According to the results of a recent scientific investigation, meerkats are the deadliest of all mammalian species. The meerkat was found to have the highest rate of homicide within its own species, according to recent research on aggressive behavior among more than 1,000 animal species.
Why Do Meerkats Bite?
As wild animals, meerkats can and will bite or scratch out of the blue. This could be due to anxiety, impatience, playfulness, or even just boredom. There is a risk that they may be infected with rabies. As a rule, they do not appreciate being petted or handled, and they might be harmful in the presence of inquisitive children.
What Is A Group Of Meerkats Called?
On the other hand, Meerkats don’t spend all their time with warthogs; instead, they huddle together in groups of up to 40 in underground tunnels called gangs or mobs.
Do Meerkats Make Good Pets?
Although meerkats are adorable, they do not make ideal pets. Even with the best of intentions, a captive meerkat will never experience the same rich and fulfilling life it would have in the wild.
What Are Baby Meerkats Called?
Parvaiz Yousuf is a senior SEO writer and editor with an experience of over 6 years, who also doubles up as a researcher. With an MSc zoology degree under his belt and possessing complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knowledge, he works as a science journalist for a US-based website and Asian Scientist (A Singapore-based magazine). He also works as Director of Wetland Research Centre, Wildlife Conservation Fund YPJK since 2018. Besides, he has several publications to his name on cancer biology and biochemistry in some reputed journals such as Nature & International Journal of Molecular Sciences, & magazines such as Science Reporter, BUCEROS BNHS, and has an abiding interest in ornithology. He also worked as a Research Associate for JK Policy Institute.