Adorable and Charming Little Meerkats
These adorable little Meerkats are my daughter's favorite zoo animal. I'm not sure if she loved Timon from the Lion King because she loves Meerkats or if she first fell for Timon. What I do know is that until she pointed them out, I had never even noticed them.
After decades of observing them now, I have found that they are truly delightful creatures.
The Meerkat Family
|Photo by Sylvestermouse|
A meerkat clan often contains about 20 meerkats at a time, but some super families have had 50 or more. Each member of the family has a job for the day. While some of the meerkats stay at home to baby-sit, other family members hunt. There is usually one sentry at a time in the hunting party. The meerkat standing guard makes peeping sounds when all is well. If the meerkat spots danger, it barks loudly or whistles. All of the meerkats know how to do all of the different jobs, so they take turns. The meerkat who baby-sits one day might hunt the next day and be a look-out the day after that.
It has recently been noted that meerkat calls may carry specific meanings, with specific calls indicating the approach of snakes, birds of prey, or other predators.
Baby meerkats do not start foraging for food until they are about 1 month old, and do so by following an older member of the group who acts as the pup's tutor. Meerkats hunt close to their home. When they have eaten all of the food in a particular area, they will move their home. Since they can dig their own tunnel homes, they can simply choose a new area where there is plenty of food and go to work building a new home.
A Few Interesting Facts about Meerkats
- Meerkats are primarily insectivores, but also eat lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, plants, eggs, small mammals, millipedes, centipedes and, more rarely, small birds.
- Members of the mongoose family
- Body Length: 10-14 in.
- Tail Length: 7-10 inches
- Weight: Approx. 1.6 lbs
- Lifespan: 12-14 years
- Meerkats live in the savannahs and grasslands of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Angola.
- Meerkats are immune to the very strong venom of the scorpions of the Kalahari Desert
Their burrows also have "bolt holes." These are special tunnels with wider openings designed to hold a crowd of meerkats at once. If the sentry raises an alarm, the meerkats will usually run for the nearest bolt hole. They will also stand together thus creating the illusion of being one large animal in the hopes of dissuading a predator.
All things considered, I believe they are very wise animals.
Bring Home Your Own Meerkat!
An Excellent Gift
WWF is a nice way to send a gift to someone while donating to a very worthy cause. They have over 90 other little plush animals to adopt including my favorites the vampire bat and the polar bear.
Adopt a Meerkat from the WWF Gift Center by clicking the link provided.