Suricata suricatta

Range: Southwestern Angola, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa

Habitat: Arid, open country. Hard ground usually preferred.

Conservation status: Least concern

Slender-tailed or Suricate Meerkat

  • • Class: Mammalia; Order: Carnivora; Family: Viverridae (mongoose family).
    • Live in troops, consisting of a pair of adults with their young.
    • Diet: mostly insects, but also small vertebrates, eggs, and plant materials. They forage regularly for food, digging in soil and grass and overturning rocks.
    • Like other mongoose species, meerkats have developed immunity to many venoms. This allows them to eat scorpions and some snakes.
    • They have no fat stores so if they don't forage for food every day they will die. Meerkat calls have recently been noted to have meaning, with specific calls alerting the approach of predators. How these calls evolved is not clear.
    • Resemble prairie dogs in many of their behaviors.
    o Both live in colonies and are social, grooming each other to strengthen social bonds.
    o They dig inter-connecting burrows, and utilize a common latrine shared by all members.
    o Both are diurnal and will remain in their burrows during inclemant weather or if it is too hot.
    o Both post guards or sentinels in upright positions to watch for the approach of possible predators, and both have alarm calls to warn of danger.

    Meerkat, page 2

    • Predators include hawks, eagles, and jackals. To defend themselves, meerkats try to look larger than they really are. An individual arches its back, stands tall on all four legs, with hair erect, and head lowered. It sways back and forth, snarls, and hisses to intimidate its enemy. A group of meerkats may even join together and mob a predator as it approaches. If there is a threat from the air, meerkats generally head for a burrow. If surprised, however, adults will cover their offspring with their own bodies .
    • Troops mark the area around their burrows with feces and secret

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