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Suricate / Meerkat

Afrikaans name: Meerkat

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A Meerkat has long claws for digging

Photo © Steven Herbert

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Ain't I cute? A Meerkat keeping a look-out

Photo © Steven Herbert

Suricata suricatta

Interesting facts about Meerkats

The proper English name for the Meerkat is the Suricate but, in South Africa, I don't know of anyone who uses that name…

Meerkats belong to the mongoose family. They occur in the drier areas of South Africa.

Meerkats are very social creatures and live in groups of up to 50 individuals, with the average being around 20. These groups are sometimes referred to as clans, mobs or gangs.

The Meerkat weighs less than one kilogram and has a body length of about 30 cm (excluding the tail).

They have long claws which are used for digging burrows as well as for digging for food. Meerkats mainly eat insects but will take smaller reptiles, eggs, spiders, scorpions and some plants.

Meerkats can produce 5 young in a litter and may have up to 4 litters in a year. The dominant male and female in a clan may kill the young from other females.

A group of Meerkats make a system of underground burrows for security and for sleeping. They are well-known for having some individuals act as lookouts who warn the rest of the group of approaching danger. The animals then scurry to safety in their burrow.

A Meerkat stretching

Photo © Steven Herbert

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List of South African Mammals

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