A meerkat stands on all fours on a dirt mound, looking at the camera

Meerkat

Little critter, big attitude

Type

giant panda

Mammals

Area

Southern African Coast

Southern Coastal Africa

Endangered Status

Stable

facts

size
Up to 1 foot
length
Meerkat next to a soccer ball
food
insects
meat, and eggs
insectivore

Meerkats eat insects, spiders, scorpions, snails, rodents, birds, eggs, and lizards.

habitat
desert
savanna grassland

Meerkats live in dry plains areas with sparse plants.

description

A mob of eight meerkats at attention

Meet the mob

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.

Meerkat bark
A meerkat stands guard atop a mound of dirt

On the lookout

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.

A meerkat displays its long claws as it lays on its stomach in a pause between digging.

Digging experts

Meerkats have very long claws 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.