Meerkat, Slender-tailed Meerkat, Suricate
Facts about this animal
Meerkats reach a head-body length of 25-31 cm and a tail length of 20-24 cm. An adult weighs about 620-960 grams. The head is broad and rounded, with a sharp-pointed muzzle. The hindquarters are stockier than the forequarters. Their coat is buff-brown to silvery and has rows of reddish-brown spots along the back. The eyes are distinctively dark-ringed. They have dark-tipped, short-haired, tapered tails.
The meerkat is a social and territorial species. Average group size is ten members, comprised of equal numbers of males and females. They are also diurnal, and take refuge in burrows at night or when threatened.
Meerkats practice a seasonal breeding order which, amongst others, allow for no more than one female to breed at the same time within the same group. Depending of rainfall and availability of food, females will produce between one and three litters per year. Pregnant and lactating females forage more intensively than other members of the group, to meet their increased energy budget. The entire pack participates in the care and maintenance of young. While the others are out foraging for food, one helper remains at the den to tend to the young.
Meerkats feed on insects, small rodents, geckos and snakes.
Did you know?
That one meerkat always stays on guard while the others sleep, forage or do any other activity where they can't possibly watch out for themselves? Meerkat predators include animals like eagles and jackals.
|Name (Scientific)||Suricata suricatta|
|Name (English)||Meerkat, Slender-tailed Meerkat, Suricate|
|CITES Status||Not listed|
|CMS Status||Not listed|
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|Habitat||Dry, open plains|
|Wild population||Unknown (Red List IUCN 2011)|
|Zoo population||1'499 reported to ISIS|
In the Zoo
How this animal should be transported
For air transport, Container Note 78 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.
Find this animal on ZooLex
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Why do zoos keep this animal
Meerkats are not an endangered species. They are however very attractive animals, and because they are always busy and display an interesting social life, are an ideal species for educational purposes. Meerkat exhibits may be combined with underground tunnels and look-outs for children allowing them to play meerkat, which are important means to awake a positive attitude towards animals and nature. Meerkats may be kept in mixed exhibits, e.g. together with rock dassies, small antelopes, like steenbok, or hornbills.