Facts About Meerkat
- Common name: Meerkat
- Scientific name: Suricata Suricatta
- Family: Herpestidae
- Type: Mammal
- Weight: 720-800 grams
- Size: 25-35 centimeters
- Top Speed: 30 km/h
- Life expectancy: 14 years (in the wild)
- Diet: Omnivore
- Status: Least concern
- Natural Habitat: Desert (Africa)
The Meerkat or also called Suricata, is an animal that gives much tenderness, it is even famous for appearing in a viral Disney movie, who does not remember the Lion King? However, these wild desert animals keep some secrets that will make us question their tenderness. Read on and learn about the facts, habitat, food, reproduction, predators, and relevant information of these wild animals.
Most relevant characteristics of Meerkat
They are small mammals that can measure up to 35 cm, but without counting the length of the tail; and their average weight is 700 gr. Their fur can be gray, or brown with silver on the belly, which varies according to their geographical location; and they have very peculiar black spots that surround their eyes, creating a kind of blindfold. Its tail is long, as it can measure up to 25 cm. The coat is dense and abundant on the back, which serves for thermoregulation, which we will discuss later.
Its head has a cone shape, having a snout somewhat elongated and pointed, which ends with its black nose. It has extremely sharp claws, which are perfect for digging in the earth to build their burrows or looking for small animals to feed on.
Where can we find him?
The habitat of the meerkat is deserts and arid plains.
A place where large populations of meerkats are found is in the Kalahari Desert, and the plains of Africa, They are the species of mongoose that lives in the driest and hottest areas.
These animals are naturally omnivores. Their diet is based on insects, grasshoppers, spiders, scorpions, lizards, small rodents, and even eggs. Something very characteristic of meerkats is that they are immune to the ingestion of venom from individual poisonous desert animals, such as scorpions and spiders; therefore, they can feed on these species without suffering any harm.
Its social structure is fascinating; it is made up of a matriarchy in which the dominant female is the only one that can have offspring. The terrifying part of the female meerkat is that when one of the other females has offspring, they are expelled from the herd, and their offspring are killed.
There is also a dominant male, which is the progenitor of the offspring. In other words, the dominant female’s life is to have litters 4 times a year and to use violence to exercise and maintain her leadership. The gestation period lasts 11 weeks.
Despite the wild matriarchy that exists, the individuals that do not reproduce cooperate in the care and upbringing of the offspring; what between everything helps to the survival of the same ones.
These animals have a great diversity of predators, so they need the help of all the members of the herd to keep themselves safe; and they can always be seen in expectation of danger, sending sound signals and alarms. The natural predators of meerkat are falcons, eagles, and jackals.
Despite being small, at the time of defending some danger, these animals will bring out their aggressiveness and talents. Cooperating among all and working together to defend all members, especially the youngest.
Relevant information about Meerkat
As we discussed in your characteristics, your coat is abundant, and this functions as a tool for thermoregulation; that is, the regulation of your body temperature. Your coat absorbs the heat that is in the environment and contains it; then it is released little by a little while the temperature drops.
They are very sociable and friendly animals, and their herds are made up of up to 40 individuals. They live in burrows with numerous entrance and exit cavities. They can quickly hide or escape from them.
Despite the violence that comes from the dominant meerkats, all members of the herd depend on each other to survive all imminent dangers. Likewise, they all play a fundamental role; for example, there are meerkats sentinels, which are alarms when there is danger; and there are also the lookouts meerkats, which are in charge of continually watching the landscape for threats.
Meerkats are very familiar; being diurnal animals, every morning at sunrise, they are all placed together to receive the first rays. Then they begin to cleanse each other and give each other gestures of affection, and then they are ready for the hunt.
Something exciting is that there are “master” meerkats, which prepare the youngest for the challenges of the wild adult life, which will reach 90 days after birth. These teach the younger one’s life lessons on how to hunt small animals, and poisonous animals without being stung, among other essential aspects.