If you’re looking for some cool meerkat facts for kids, you’ve come to the right place! Meerkats are cute little mammals that are members of the mongoose family. These animals are social animals and live in large groups. Each group can have more than 40 members. Every member of the group participates in gathering food, taking care of the young ones and keeping an eye out for predators. In fact, rarely will you find animals that work so closely together and cohesively in groups like the meerkats do.
What Does a Meerkat look like?
These busy little animals have light brown or tan colored fur all over their bodies with darker stripes that run across their backs. They have large eyes and small pointed noses. They are very cute looking; about 20 inches in length and they have a thin tail.
Photo Credit: Laura Kramer
Where do Meerkats Live?
Meerkats are found mostly in deserts and grasslands in southern Africa. They live in burrows and are extremely social animals. Their long, sharp claws help them dig these burrows, which keep them protected from the harsh African heat. These burrows are very well thought out with rooms and tunnels. There are various entrances to the burrow and a mob of meerkats will live in five such borrows.
What do Meerkats Eat?
Every morning meerkats go out of their burrows in search of food. They have a very strong sense of smell that helps them find caterpillars, scorpions, spiders and beetles. These omnivorous animals also eat eggs, birds, small reptiles, plants and fruits.
Rotation of Duty
Meerkats are very smart animals who believe in rotating duties. While some stay back in the burrow to look after the younger pups, others go out to look for food. They have a lot of rivalry amongst themselves and it is common for meerkats from rival mobs to attack pups. That is why a large number of meerkats from each mob are put on sentry duty to guard the burrow and protect the young ones.
Photo Credit: Spencer Wright
The sentries stand on their back legs on a high point and keep watch on the sky and surrounding desert for predators, such as eagles, jackals and hawks. If they sense any kind of danger, they let out a high pitched squeal to alert other mob members to head for the safety of the burrow.
Safety In Numbers
Safety plays a major role in meerkat groups. They dig separate burrows called bolt holes to hide during an emergency. These bolt holes are made all over the area they move around in. When confronted together by a predator, the group raises their hair and hiss. This is to make the other animal feel meerkats are ferocious animals.
Though meerkats are abundant in number and far from endangered, they are constantly threatened by rival meerkats, predators, floods that wash away their burrows, droughts and many other natural calamities.
Photo Credit: Ronnie Macdonald
Fun Meerkat Facts
Some meerkat mothers are too dominant and force other females to nurse their young ones. Mothers often catch live bugs for their pups to teach them ways of killing a prey. Maybe because of so much protection, young meerkats are afraid of birds and get scared even by airplanes.
Interesting Meerkat Facts:
· Meerkat’s scientific name is Suricata suricatta, while its family name is Viverridae.
· Its natural habitat is the desert where it survives on a omnivorous diet.
· These mammals have a lifespan of 12 to 14 years and are not considered an endangered species.
· An adult meerkat weighs around 35 oz.
· A meerkat walks at a speed of 20 mph which is faster than an average human child’s walk.
· Meerkats are around 9.75 to 11.75 inches in length.
· It is interesting to note, meerkats fight amongst themselves just like warriors. They line up and charge against the opposing group.
· Another fascinating fact about meerkats is the mother nurses its young ones standing on its hindlegs.
· When meerkats relocate to a different burrow, they carry their pups by the scruff of their necks.
· A special membrane protects a meerkat’s eyes when they dig their burrow.
More Facts About Meerkats for Kids