Zoology

Group Behavior of the Meerkat



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"Group Behavior of the Meerkat"
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The Meekat (or Suricate) belonging to the monogoose family, are cute little animals. In the Disney movie "The Lion King" the character, Timon is a meerkat.

Meerkat's are found in the desert in South Africa. They weight about two pounds and are 25 inches long (including their tails). Like the domestic cat they use their tail for balance. They have very long non-retractable claws, that they use to defend themselves, catch and kill their prey and dig in the ground when making their homes.

There fur is a combination of colors, brown, silver, black, tan and gray. The adults have stripes on their backside. They have sharp, long teeth they eat insects, lizards, snakes, scorpions (after removing the stinger, they are immune to the scorpions venom) and other smaller animals. Meerkat's must eat everyday, often several times a day, their bodies can not store fat.

They are a very social group of animals among their same kind. They play, wrestle and race with each other. They also groom one another, hunt together and share the food, they take care of each other's young (kits).
The dig their underground home together, digging hundreds of holes for easy access incase of a threat. They live in groups of 20 or more, called "mobs" The leaders of the mobs are called The Alpha Pair.

Many members of the mob have specific jobs. The babysitters will care for the young, including nursing them, gathering and carrying them to safety during an attack or a threat of an attack. They will risk their life to defend the young.

The guards, just as the name implies, they stand guard and watch for trouble, either on the ground or in a tree. When a threat presents it's self the guard(s) will bark a warning. The babysitters gather the young and the other Meerkats then scurry underground through one of the hundreds of holes to safety. The guards will continue barking until the threat has passed. Then the Meerkats will venture back out.

When presented with an unexpected threat, by a predator the Meerkat's stand on their hind legs, extending their pointy tail outwards and jump up and down while growling, if this practice does not deter the predator the Meerkat's will begin leaping towards the predator in groups.
The Meerkat's also teach their young how to hunt and defend themselves by having the young observe their mother's actions. It doesn't take long for the little ones to catch on.

Meerkat's in captivity (zoos) act the same way as they do in the wild. They are also curious by nature and seem to enjoy watching the guests, watch them.

Sources
www.wonderclub.com
www.whozoo.com

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