THE AWESOME MEERCAT
I've probably featured these critters before, but I love ' em. The meerkat or suricate is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. Meerkats are tremendous diggers and can dig up their own body weight in earth in only a couple of seconds
- Type: Mammal
- Diet: Omnivore
- Lifespan: 12-14 years
- Size: 25-30 cm long excluding tail
- Weight: Under 1 kg
- Habitat: Arid plains and deserts
- Range: Southern Africa
- Scientific name: Suricata suricatta
Facts About the Meercat
- Meerkats are extremely social, and often groom or play with each other. They tend to live in groups (‘gangs’ or ‘mobs’) of around 20 individuals, although far larger groups are not uncommon.
- Meerkat groups use several different burrows, moving between them regularly. The burrows have a range of tunnels and different ‘rooms’, and allow the meerkats to remain cool during hot periods.
- Meerkats have highly developed senses of smell, hearing and vision. The black bands around the eyes help protect them from the glare of the African sun. They also have specific vocalisations to communicate different information such as type of approaching predator.
- When groups are out foraging, individuals will take turns acting as sentinels. A sentinel will stand on his/her hind legs and scan the area for potential danger and will make an alarm call if a predator is spotted, warning the group members and allowing for a fast getaway.
- Meerkats are tremendous diggers and can dig up their own body weight in earth in only a couple of seconds.
- Meerkats enjoy sun-bathing! In the morning when they come out from their burrows they will often spend time simply standing-up and warming themselves by the sun’s rays.
- Meerkat groups have a highly developed social structure, with individuals playing various important roles in the community. For example babysitters will remain with young pups while the rest of the gang are out foraging, and elder meerkats will take responsibility for mentoring the young, teaching them how to forage and to be alert to danger.
- Researchers from the University of Cambridge studying meerkat groups in the Kalahari Desert have acknowledged that meerkats have “traditions” which are passed down generation to generation.
- Scientists have found that some meerkat groups are particularly lazy and will routinely rise later, whereas others will get up and leave their burrows far earlier. Laziness and liveliness are therefore culturally biased in meerkats.
- Meerkats’ highly cooperative social behaviour has seen many firms using meerkats as examples in workplace training workshops to encourage more team-spirit and cooperative working. The project ‘All for One – The Meerkat Way’ is being used by over a thousand industry-leading companies.
Clancy's comment: Love 'em!
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