If you’ve ever seen a meerkat then chances are you’ve seen them standing upright on their back legs.
This isn’t just for show. They’re actually standing on guard. Usually, there’s one ‘lookout’ keeping an eye out whilst the others go about their daily business.
Every meerkat within a group has specific roles to play, like a sentry or a babysitter. They actually take these roles in shifts, so babysitter one day maybe lookout the next.
Meerkats are found only at the southern tip of Africa in the Kalahari and Namib deserts, Angola and South Africa. They live in large groups of roughly twenty individuals. Some groups have been recorded at fifty plus.
These highly intelligent animals are actually members of the mongoose family and boy do they love to dig! They can create large underground networks with lots of entrances and exits. They spend all night inside and only venture out during the day. They also use it to shelter during the scorching afternoon sun.
There are lots of meerkats in the wild so they are listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List. Research and monitoring is all that's required at this stage. Which is great news.
With them being such fun, characterful little creatures and often being used in the media, they are at risk from the illegal pet trade.
Slender tailed-meerkat questions and answers
Do meerkats have many predators?
They have a few…martial eagles, jackals and tawny eagles.
Does their tale have a practical use at all?
It does. It actually acts as a brace when they stand upright to stop them from falling over, just like a kickstand on a bicycle.
How long do meerkats live?
Anywhere between ten to fifteen years.
Why do meerkats have dark rings around their eyes?
To help them see better. They have excellent vision as it is, but the black ring helps reduce the glare of the sun.
Listing photo credit: Jeff Gendall Photography