Nathaniel the Meerkat
is pretty excited about this week's Wildlife Wednesday because we're talking Meerkats! Ready to learn some cool meerkat facts?
Meerkats belong to the mongoose family. They weigh about 1.5 pounds and can grow to be 10-14 inches tall.
Meerkats have good senses of smell, vision, and hearing.
Meerkats start their days off by leaving their burrows for some sunbathing before their daily hunting.
Meerkats live in large groups, made up of different families. Groups can have up to 40 individuals.
A group of meerkats is called a mob or gang.
Meerkats spend a lot of time grooming each other and playing together as a family to keep the mob a close knit community.
Meerkats mostly eat insects. They also eat small reptiles, plants, scorpions and eggs.
Meerkats don't need to drink water, they get all the moisture they need from the roots and plants that they eat.
Meerkats have very little fat so they can't store much energy. They have to find food every day.
Meerkats share the responsibility of raising the young. Meerkats are fully grown at 6 months old.
Adults bring whole food back to the young meerkats to they can learn how to kill prey without getting hurt. This includes scorpions.
Meerkats have a territory of about 4 square miles
Adult meerkats take turns being sentry, and watching out for potential threats. They climb to the highest point to preform their guard duties.
The sentry stands on its hind legs, using its tail to help balance.
When on guard duty, the sentry meerkat makes a low constant peeping. This is known as the watchman’s song and it means everything is ok.
Meerkats have 10 different calls.
When the sentry spots a predator he will whistle or bark and all the other meerkats know to run for the nearest burrow entrance. The sentry is also the first to check to see if the danger has passed. They have different warning sounds for land and air predators.
Meerkats memorize thousands of burrow entrances so they know which one is closest when a predator is spotted.
Meerkats also stir up dust to make it harder to see them and they may stand as a group to make themselves look larger.
Meerkats bellies are covered in dark skin with thin fur. This helps them easily control body temperature. If they lay on their back they can warm up quickly with the sun. They cool down by laying with their stomaches against a cool rock.
Meerkats have a special membrane that covers their eyes to keep it safe from dirt when they burrow. They can also close off their ears.
The dark patches around their eyes help them to see, by reducing glare.
Meerkats are immune to scorpion venom. They are still susceptible to the pincers though which can be very dangerous
Meerkats are really good diggers but they often take over the burrows of other small burrowing mammals.