Meerkats are FASINATING animals!  I have learned so many new things about the meerkats.  So I will share with you a few things that I found out about these social motivated carnivores.  


I chose this organism, meerkat, because I wanted to learn more about their daily activities and how they survive in the wild compared to captivity.  Also, I had to think of something that students last year didn’t pick.  To check out other organisms click here.  When most of us think about meerkats the movie Lion King might run in our heads, so instead here are some interesting things about this creature.  Something that I had no idea about is meerkats have a very complex social structure.  At the top of the group is the alpha male and alpha female in which they do most of the breeding. Next on the totem pole of hierarchy comes the beta male and beta female their roles are to serve the alphas and then leave the group for better breeding opportunities.  Then pups are born which are the baby meerkats at the age of birth to ten months.  Finally there are the meerkats that stand guard and watch for predators they are called sentries. When I went to the Milwaukee County Zoo in Wisconsin I interviewed a supervisor zookeeper who told me that Sashie, the zoo’s only meerkats, liked to sit up in her bedding area and watch out as the zookeepers made her lunch.  To read more about my visit to the zoo go to Zookeeper Experience. 


Also, in the wild the color of their coat varies in each geographical section.  The meerkats are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) list of Threatened Species but this was assessed in 1996 and meerkats were a species of least concern.  The name meerkat has a special meaning in the Afrikaans, South African, language.  The name meerkat means lake or marsh cat.  Something concerning the nutrition of the meerkat is that they can eat poisonous snakes or scorpions and not get killed by the venom.  Some animals that are very similar to the meerkats are the yellow mongoose and the bush-tailed mongoose.  The yellow mongoose is like the meerkat because they too are social animals living mainly in the southern part of Africa.  The bush-tailed mongoose is similar to the meerkat in that they forge for ants and termites, but they reside in the moist savannah of Africa.  To see other relations of the meerkat check out the classification page.  Since this species is so dependent on the aspect of being social if a predator is spotted the group of meerkats will quickly stir up dust to hide from their dreaded predator.  Research of meerkats in the Kalahari by Lynda Sharpe says that meerkat pups that are the biggest in the liter grow into the more efficient hunters and they are more likely to become the dominant within a group.  The ancestral mongooses, relatives of the meerkat, lived in the forest areas but as Africa started to dry up to stay away from predators they grouped together for protection.  Meerkats tame fairly fast and they are also very affectionate.  In South Africa, meerkats are used to kill mice and rats.  Some additional names for the meerkat are Suricata suricatta, Slender-tailed meerkat, and African suricate.               

What do Meerkats sound Like???? Microsoft Clip Art        Photo taken by Amanda Hustad

* This photo of Sashie at the Milwaukee County Zoo shows that she likes to know what is going on around her.  This is part of the meerkat's nature because in the wild they are constantly looking for predators.

Hit Counter                          Comments? Questions? Concerns? Don't hesitate to email me at

Amanda Hustad Copyright © 2007, Design by: Sunlight webdesign