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Scientific name: Suricata suricatta
Family name: Herpestidae
Classification: Mammal

Native to: South Africa

Meerkat Videos
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About Meerkats

How long do we live for? Our lifespan is 12-14 years.

How much do we weigh? Less than one kilogram

How tall are we? Around 29cm (plus a 19cm tail)

How fast are we? 32 km/h

Where do we live? Deserts in South Africa

What do we eat? Lots of things! We are omnivores and eat beetles, spiders, and scorpions, as well as fruit and plants! We also like to eat eggs, as well as small birds and reptiles if we can.

Meerkat Gallery

Meerkats are very social animals who live in family groups of up to 50. In these groups, also known as 'mobs', each meerkat has a special role to play in keeping their family safe. Some meerkats spend their time foraging food whilst others look after the babies, but you'll always find one brave meerkat (though sometimes more)  acting as the guard and looking out for predators all day long. This is known as a sentry. This meerkat will find a high point on some rocks or a termite mount and will perch on its back legs to scan the sky for scary birds like eagles or hawks. If they sense danger, they will let out a high-pitched squeal, letting the other meerkats know that they should hide. The meerkats dig lots of safe spaces throughout their foraging area called bolt holes, where they can take cover. 

If they are caught by a predator, such as a bird or a snake, they will try to look as scary as they can - lying on their back and showing their sharp teeth! If a group is confronted, the meerkats will all stand together as a unit, hissing and raising their hair. This can trick the attacker into thinking they are a much bigger, scarier animal.

In the dessert where they, meerkats burrow underground to get shelter from the hot sun and predators. Meerkats are great diggers and can create a series of complex tunnels within their burrow which acts as different rooms. They even have a baby nursery, and a tunnel for going to the toilet. 

Meerkats come out in the morning to forage for food by using their excellent sense of smell. Their sandy-coloured coats help them to blend into the sand, and the dark patches around their eyes act as sunglasses to reflect the sun and help them see better. They will look for small reptiles or insects to eat, along with any fruit or plants they can find. Back at the burrow, other meerkats will look after the babies - their main job is to protect them from rival meerkat mobs, who like to catch and kill the young!

Life as a Meerkat


Meerkats look cute but they are tough - they are immune to some different types of snake venom. 


Meerkats are super smart! A recent study at St Andrews University found meerkats use complex coordinated behaviour, which rivals that of chimps, dolphins and even humans.


Meerkats don't drink water! Even though the desert is dry, meerkats get all the moisture they need from the insects that they eat.


Meerkats have amazing eyesight. They can see birds from miles away on the horizon! Long, horizontal pupils give them a wide range of vision without having to turn their head. They also have a membrane to cover their eyes for protection whilst they dig.

Meerkat Fun Facts
Conservation Status
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