Meerkats are mammals and belong to carnivores. They form their own animal species and are related to the martens. Meerkats live in arid areas of southern Africa. Meerkats live in colonies of up to 30 animals and have a strong family life. They like to cuddle very closely together.
Meerkats prefer to live in the savannah, but also in semi-deserts. The meerkats got their name because, like humans, they often stand on two legs to observe their surroundings. Meerkats are also often kept in zoos because they are very popular with both children and adults.
Meerkats have gray, tan, or tan soft fur with inconspicuous darker horizontal stripes. They have dark borders around the eyes, the so-called mask. Therefore, the meerkats have a cunning appearance.
Adult meerkats weigh about 700 to 750 grams, which is a little lighter than a carton of milk. From the head to the beginning of the tail they are about 25 centimeters long. The tail is only slightly shorter.
How do meerkats live?
Meerkats are diurnal animals and like to sunbathe near their burrows. Often they are also busy digging underground. To prevent sand from getting into the sensitive ear canals when digging, meerkats can close their ears.
During the day, meerkats use their strong, long claws to scratch the ground in search of food. They tiptoe over the sand with their tails up. Their main diet is insects and spiders, but they also eat scorpions and lizards. Again and again, they raise themselves up when looking for food to check whether predators are lurking. Take snakes, for example. If an enemy is sighted, the meerkat emits a loud warning cry. As a result, all the meerkats in the colony flee into their underground passages.
Meerkats can have young up to three times a year. They grow in their mother’s womb for about eleven weeks. They don’t open their eyes and ears until about two weeks after birth. They suckle milk from their mother for two months. After about a year they can have their own young. Meerkats are about six years old.