Sydney Zoo | Meerkat
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Meerkat

Meerkat

Species Suricata Suricatta
Meerkat
Meerkat Distribution MapDistribution
Meerkat
Top speed
20km/h
Favourite Food
Insects
Height
30cm
Weight
750g - 850g

Safety in numbers is the key to success for this charismatic little carnivore. Individuals play important roles within the mob and these roles support the holistic safety and survival of the group in the wild.

All meerkats will display a very well-practiced behaviour known as ‘sentry duty’. This involves one or more of the group members standing up right on their hind legs using their tail as a counter-balance to gain as much visibility as possible to scout for any dangers from above including birds of prey.

They have a sandy, golden coat with black uneven lines across their bodies and down to their tails, helping them to blend into their open-range habitat. These lines are unique to each meerkat.

Meerkats spend large amounts of their time underground digging and maintaining the burrows where they sleep. These extensive systems also provide an opportunity for the animals to thermoregulate and keep cool from the hot African sun.

Meerkats use this same digging behaviour to find food that includes all different kinds of invertebrates. While they generally eat small bugs, it has commonly been observed that meerkats will also hunt small birds and reptiles. This hunting behaviour is a learnt behaviour and is taught by older members to the meerkat pups.

Did You Know?

Meerkats have natural built in 'sunglasses' in the form of black fur around their eyes. This helps to reflect the sun when they are spending large amounts of time looking into the sky for potential threats.