A meerkat is a small animal that is part of the mongoose family. Also known as the suricate they are very social creatures that live in mobs, gangs or clans of up to 20 meerkats. In the wild meerkats can live for 6-7 years, but in captivity can survive up to 12-14 years. The name meerkat is borrowed from Afrikaans and has a Dutch origin. in Dutch it means” lake cat”, but the name may have originated from a miscommunication. Meerkats are only small and grow to a height of 25 to 35 centimetres (9.8 to 14 in) in total. The meerkat has light coloured fur but their eyes are surrounded by black patches and they have short parallel stripes across their backs in a dark colour.
Where do meerkats live?
Geographically meerkats are found in on the continent of Arica. The live in the southern region and can be found in all part of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana as well as in most of the Namib Desert and southwestern Angola. Meerkats can also be found in South Africa. There are also meerkat colonies in zoos and wildlife conservations around the world. The following is a map showing the natural range of this species:
Due to the fact that these animals live in the desert, The habitat of the meerkat is usually and extensive network of borrows and mounds. The meerkat will tunnel deep underground to create a cool and safe pace for the colony to live. Burrows are also a good way to protect their young from predators. Most burrow systems have many exits and entry points to allow means for escape and protection. Meerkats also choose areas to inhabit which have elevated areas where they can post lookouts. Meerkats gangs will have between 6 and 12 dens in their territory and will change dens every two to three days. This ensures that parasites such as fleas and ticks do not build up to excessive levels. Moving also allows for their main food supply of insects to repopulate.
Did you know?
Did you know that meerkats are immune to the poison on many small insects, such as scorpions, that inhabit their homes.