Standing tall at just 12 inches high, the meerkat is a small masked mammal that thrives in one of the hottest and driest places on Earth.
A member of the mongoose family, this cute, precocious and highly social creature can be tough enough to kill a cobra.
Vision: Color the dark eye markings act like built-in sunglasses.
Feet: Non-retractable claws
Height: 12 inches
Weight: Two pounds
Light-Absorbency: Called the “Solar Panel of the Animal World,” meerkats use their dark-skinned sparsely furred bellies to warm up.
Tail: Eight inches long and used as a tripod to balance the animal in an upright position.
Activity: diurnal (active during the day)
Lifespan: 10 - 12 years but in the wild 3-4 years is more usual unless the meerkat becomes dominant.
Society: A group of meerkats, usually five to 30 members, is called a “group.”
Species Range: Southern Africa/Kalahari Desert 2-5km²
Dwelling: burrows are shared with ground squirrels and yellow mongooses; each group has 2-6 separate burrows in their home range.
Transience: Territory usually well defined and stable
Competitiveness: Meerkats are very territorial and will fiercely defend their home from other meerkat groups.
Guardianship: Meerkats are “snack size” for a number of animals, so one always stands guard while the others forage or nap.
Primary Predators: martial eagles and jackals
911: Various alarm calls indicate different predators.
Specialization: Alpha female dominant over all group members.
Litter Size: Two to five pups
Gestation: 11 weeks
Breeding Season: October-April in the wild; year-round in captivity
Co-operative behaviour: Subordinate females commonly suckle pups born to the dominant female. All group members baby sit, feed, carry and protect dominant females pups.
Precociousness: sexually mature at one year
Diet: Scorpions (meerkats are immune to their venom), beetles, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, worms, crickets, small mammals, small reptiles, birds and eggs.
*All information from www.meerkats.com
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