Mammal

Meerkat

Area: 
Southern Africa
Habitat: 
Dry plains with sparse plants
Food: 
Insects, spiders, snails, small rodents and birds, eggs, lizards, and scorpions
Size: 
Up to 12 inches long
Babies: 
Pups are born with eyes and ears shut.
Meerkats are able to kill and eat venomous snakes and scorpions without being hurt, because they are immune to the venom.
Little Critter, Big Attitude

 

Meerkats live in underground burrows in large groups of up to 30 individuals called a gang or a mob. The mob is made up of several families, but one dominant female and one dominant male produce most of the babies.

 

Adult meerkats take turns acting as guards while the others look for food. The guard climbs to the top of the highest rock, termite mound, or bush it can find. Then it stands upright on two legs to get a good look around. If the guard spots danger, it alerts the others with a bark or whistle. The other meerkats all dash back into their burrows when they hear the guard's call.

 

Meerkats have very long clawsThe fingernails of an animal, such as a bear or cat. They help to grab prey. In birds, they're called talons. to help them dig their burrows and to uncover food. They have a special membrane that covers the eye to protect it from dirt and rocks while they are burrowing. They also have very special ears that they can close to keep out soil when digging.