Scientific Name: suricata suricatta
Habitat: savanna and open plains
Diet: insects, small vertebrates, eggs, and plant matter
Life Span: 5 – 15 years
Young: 3 offspring per litter/ up to 3 litters a year
Size: males 731 g / females 720 g
The Meerkat inhabits the savanna and open plains of South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. Meerkat distribution depends on soil type. Firm to hard soils being common living ground.
Although the colour of the Meerkat’s coat varies geographically, it is generally peppered gray, tan, or brown. They have distinctive dark patches around the eyes and dark horizontal bands across their backs. Their body and legs are long and slender, with a thin tail that tapers to a point. They have small, crescent-shaped ears and a pointed nose.
Meerkats are social animals that live in packs of up to three family groups. There can be up to 30 members in a pack. A family consists of a male, female, and offspring. A female gives birth up to three times a year, with an average of three offspring per litter. Fathers take an active role in raising the young, by guarding them.
Sitting erect, one member of the pack acts as a lookout, or sentinel, watching for predators and other danger. The sentinel sounds the alarm by giving a distinct bark. The role of sentinel rotates throughout the day among different members of the pack.
For more information about the Meerkat visit Animal Diversity Web, or visit the Edmonton Valley Zoo!