Meerkats are super cute squirrel-size members of the mongoose family, with bushy, brown-striped fur, a small pointed face coming to a point at the brown nose, large eyes surrounded by dark patches and small black crescent-shaped ears. Its bushy coat is usually peppered gray, tan, or brown with silver.
Its shoulders, from the base of its tail, running side to side across its back, the bushy coat is marked with short, parallel stripes. Meerkats have long, strong, curved claws that they use for digging burrows and for prey. Using its tail to balance, meerkats often stand up on their hind legs in the morning to absorb heat on their bellies after a long cold desert night. They have the ability to recognize each other’s voice.
Meerkats are extremely social small animals, measuring 9.75 to 11.75 inches from head to rump and weighing on average about 0.5 to 2.5 kilograms, found mainly in the deserts and grasslands of the southern tip of Africa. Their life span is normally about 6 to 7 years in the wild and 12 to 14 years in captivity.
Meerkats live in the deserts and grasslands of the southern tip of Africa and they mainly eat insects, lizards, small snakes, scorpions, spiders, centipedes, plants and fungi. They are immune to scorpion and certain types of snake venom. They live in groups and usually a meerkat clan often contains about 20 meerkats, but some super-families have 50 or more members. Within their territory the clan usually has up to 5 different burrows with multiple entrances, which can be 5 m deep, where they sleep in at night. In each clan there is an alpha pair of meerkats that lead the group and typically assumes the right to mate and produce offspring. If others in the clan reproduce, the alpha pair will usually kill the young and may kick the mother out of the clan.
While all the members of the mob participate in gathering food, one of them, the sentry, finds a high point and stands upright on its hind legs to scan the sky and the desert for predators like the eagles, hawks and jackals and taking care of the babies. In case of any probable danger, the sentry alerts the group with a high-pitched squeal, sending the mob scrambling for cover. In fact, meerkats can spot predators in the air from more than 300 m away, as they have great peripheral vision and the dark patches around their eyes cut glare from the hot desert surface.
Meerkats become sexually mature at about two years of age and the male may fight with the female until she submits to him for copulation. The fetal period lasts approximately 11 weeks, after which the female gives birth to one to four pups in a litter. The pups are born hairless, blind and closed ears. While the ears open at about 10 days of age, eyes open at 10 to14 days.
According to a study, meerkats are the most ferocious and murderous mammal known to science