Micro Life Zone
Asked by j41m33 to Jenny on 21 Mar 2013.
The meerkat is a small mammal belonging to the mongoose family. Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, in much of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa. A group of meerkats is called a “mob”, “gang” or “clan”. A meerkat clan often contains about 20 meerkats, but some super-families have 50 or more members. In captivity, meerkats have an average life span of 12–14 years, and about half this in the wild. They weigh on average about 731 grams for males and 720 grams for females. They have long slender bodies and a body length of 25 to 35 centimetres and an added tail length of 17 to 25 centimetres. The meerkat uses its tail to balance when standing upright, as well as for signaling. Its eyes always have black patches around them and it has small black crescent-shaped ears that can close to exclude soil when digging in the dirt. At the end of each of a meerkat’s “fingers” is a non-retractable, strong, 2 centimetres (0.79 in) long, curved claw used for digging burrows and digging for prey. Claws are also used with muscular hindlegs to help climb trees. Meerkats are primarily insectivores, but also eat lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, plants, eggs, small mammals, millipedes, centipedes and, more rarely, small birds. Meerkats are immune to certain types of venom, including the very strong venom of the scorpions of the Kalahari Desert. They have no excess body fat stores, so foraging for food is a daily need.
Meerkats forage in a group with one meerkat on guard watching for predators while the others search for food. Guard duty is usually approximately an hour long. A meerkat can dig through a quantity of sand equal to its own weight in just seconds!!
There was a good tv series a few years back called meerkat manor which you might like to watch if you like meerkats and want to learn about them:
Hope this helps! 🙂
By BRIDGE8 under license from Mangorolla CIC 2021