Also called as suricate, the scientific name for Meerkats is Suricata suricatta. Meerkat is a small sized, sandy brown mammal that belongs to the mongoose family. Their brown color helps them stay comfortable while hiding inside their underground habitats. Meerkats can be seen in the whole of the Kalahari Desert in the Botswana region, in addition to regions including the Namib Desert in Namibia, South Africa, and southwestern Angola.
Meerkats are quite popular
Most zoos and wildlife sanctuaries around the world have meerkats. Meerkats live in groups called gang or clan consisting of between 20-50 members of their species. The average life span of meerkats in captivity is 12-14 years, while they live only about half of this period if they are left in the wild. Meerkats dig burrows and make them their habitat. Most wild meerkats live underground. They make elaborate tunnels and runways deep under the surface of the soil. Meerkats are a sort of hunting animals that go for expeditions in gangs.
A Meerkat’s diet
Meerkats dig out the hideouts of bugs and other small animals to prey on them. They feed on insects like ants and flies. They might also eat arthropods including centipedes and millipedes. They may also prey on worms and caterpillars, dirt, plants, leaves and grass. It is not uncommon to see meerkats eating reptiles like lizards and snakes besides scorpions and spiders. Meerkats also feed on small birds and eggs laid by a variety of animals. Very special foods occasionally enjoyed by meerkats include scorpions and ant larva. Very strangely, meerkats are immune to poisonous bites, especially that of scorpions. Also, most meerkats can eat what is poisonous to other animals.
The meerkat’s interesting habit
Meerkats have an interesting habit while they are on the hunt. One of the members of their clan stands out to keep watch as the guard to alert other members if a predator approaches. Their danger signal consists of loud barks or whistling. If things are fine, they make a peep sound and inform their clan.
How do they dig?
Meerkats use their strong front claws for burrowing. Most insects and small animals burrow deep inside during summer to look for moisture and meerkats can easily dig to reach these hideouts and catch their prey. Meerkats are interesting animals with peculiar features and habits. Though they are omnivorous, they are nice and lovable creatures. Meerkats are a value addition to the biomes where they live in contributing to the balance. Their unique characteristic features make the study of their lives a topic of interest.
More: Facts about meerkats.