Also known as Cynictis penicillata.

Meerkats hail from from Africa primarily in the Kalahari Desert range. Usually living in groups called mobs or gangs of 20 or more. They are similar to ground hogs in that they burrow and are very dependent on the other family members for survival.

Being a member of the mongoose family makes them natural hunters. Yet instead of hunting snakes such as the mongoose does they hunt scorpions and are impervious to their venom. They are also known to eat small mammals, insects, centipedes, and millipedes. They are Diurnal (active during daylight) and their eyes act like sunglasses shielding them from the hot African sun. They also have very low body temp making it important for them dark skin to suck up the sunlight, thus they are sometimes called "The Solar Panels" of the wild. The main predators of the meerkat are the Jackal, Big Cats, l and the various birds of prey within their home range.

Their means of defense are several alarm calls that alert the other colony members of impending danger so that they may run back into their burrow. Each meerkat is expected to take their turn on watch as the others hunt and care for the young (the average gestation period being 11 weeks). All of the meerkats in a gang use one single area for when nature calls making them one of the only animals to be communal in their bathroom needs.

One can recognize a Meerkat because they are slender and cylindrical, with short legs and a small head. The heads and bodies are 10" to 12" long, with the tail at 8" to 10". The snout is pointed. The fur is long and soft, and the coloration is grayish brown to whitish gray on the upper side, with about 10 indistinct brown to black stripes on the back portion of the body. The thinly haired underside and legs and pale yellowish, and the tail is black on the tip.

Meer"kat (?), n. [D.] Zool.

A South African carnivore (Cynictis penicillata), allied to the ichneumons.


© Webster 1913.

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