Who is it?
The meerkat (Suricata suricatta) is a small mongoose. It’s light, with slender, muscular limbs, a long tail and quite different from the rest of its family.
Sociable and easily domesticated, its sense of smell is very well developed and it is a curious and inquisitive species.
It appeared in the arid regions of Africa during the Quaternary Period, two million years ago.
It has a wide, rounded head with dark eyes, a pointed snout and hindquarters which are stouter than the forequarters, with brown and reddish marks on its back.
Its range is above all southern Africa, over savannahs or dry, open plains.
What are its habits?
Socially, they are perfectly organised. Meerkats form large, egalitarian colonies of about ten individuals. When food is scarce or exhausted, they don’t think twice: they migrate to find a new, more suitable territory.
Its diet is based on insects, small rodents, lizards and snakes. One of them always acts as a lookout, standing erect on its legs; they protect themselves by doing so (as soon as they detect a danger, the lookout alerts the rest).
Its favourite activity is sunbathing, in both winter and summer. The breeding season and the number of litters depends on the rain and the availability of food.
Did you know…
They are very affectionate mongooses. Their overwhelming displays of affect influence the cohesion of the group.