Meerkats are very social animals, living in large groups called mobs. These mobs usually consist of several family groups with a single alpha male and alpha female pair. Generally, the alphas are the only ones in the mob allowed to breed. A mob’s home territory can be as large as 4 square miles and there is always at least one sentry ready to sound the alarm if danger approaches. Meerkats are able to stand upright, thanks to their tail, and have horizontal pupils which give them excellent peripheral vision without needing to move their heads. These adaptations make looking out for danger much easier. Meerkats are also very physical with each other, often playing and helping to groom each other in order to reinforce the bonds between the mob members.
Habitat: Deserts in Africa
Diet in the wild: Insects, small vertebrates, scorpions, spiders, eggs, vegetation
Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Apples, carrots, cat and dog chow, insectivore diet, large meal worms, crickets, meats
Size: About 12 inches tall
Family: Females that don’t have young of their own will babysit and even feed milk to the alpha’s young.
Status: Least Concern
Did you know? Meerkats will adopt burrows made by other animals, which sometimes means they share a burrow with other small animals like yellow mongooses and African ground squirrels.