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Regenstein African Journey

Did You Know?

  • Meerkat groups are made up of several families, and females are dominant.
  • In a meerkat mob, one individual is always on sentinel duty, watching for predators while others forage. The sentinel can often be seen standing on hind legs using their tail as a support. Sentinels rotate throughout the day. If they spot a predator, they produce a shrill call warning the others to take cover.
  • Meerkats have dark patches around their eyes that reduce glare from bright sunlight, like the way American football players place black strips below their eyes for protection against the sun and stadium lights.

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Why aren’t animals visible at all times? To promote positive animal welfare, we provide animals with choices. They can choose to spend time in areas that are out of public view.


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Scientific Name: Suricata suricatta

Class: Mammals

Diet: Insects like grubs and termites (also, small vertebrates, eggs, and plant matter)

Range: Southern Africa

Endangered Status: Least Concern

More Information

Meerkats are small and slender members of the mongoose family. They are usually between 10–14 inches in length, not counting their tail, and weigh up to 2.2 pounds. They have grizzled gray and brown fur and a dark tip on their tail. Meerkats use their powerful foreclaws for digging and their pointed snout to help them retrieve prey from narrow crevices.

Meerkats live in groups of up to 30 individuals, called a mob. When threatened, the whole group bands together to intimidate predators or other meerkat mobs. They use burrows for cover, and these burrows may have extensive tunnel and room systems that stay cool underground. Peak breeding takes place during the warm, rainy seasons. Female meerkats have an 11-week gestation and give birth to litters of two to five offspring. These young resemble adults by two months of age, but they aren’t adults until about one year after birth. Then, females are banished from the family to find another mob.

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