Meerkats. Animals made famous in the United Kingdom with very stereotypical Russian accents, encouraging viewers to visit a certain price comparison site. Today our prime focus is on real-life meerkats: Think Africa, not Russia, less lavish mansions, more sandy deserts and incoherent barks.
These fun facts about Meerkats will shine a light on these mysterious animals, answering your questions with lots of fascinating trivia…
1. Are meerkats more like dogs, or more like cats?
Did you know meerkats bark, despite baby meerkats being called kittens?
2. Will meerkats gang up on you?
They look like the friendliest creatures, yet their collective noun is a gang of meerkats.
3. They have underground lairs.
They are ferociously territorial, yet all run underground together when threatened.
4. Their numbers are impressive.
Meerkats live in family groups called mobs, gangs or clans and there between 30 to 50 members in families.
5. They’re related to mongooses.
They grow to a length of 12 inches, weigh about two pounds and are members of the Mongoose family.
6. They’re always keeping a watchful eye.
To make up for for their small height, meerkats have a habit of standing on their back legs, propped up by their tail when acting as lookout.
7. Meerkat gangs are run by women.
These huge gangs of meerkats are led by an alpha pair with the female being the dominant leader. Girl power!
8. There is a babysitting rota.
A babysitter stays behind to watch over the new-born pups and their duty rotates to different members of the gang. The said babysitter will often go all day without food.
9. Unfortunately, many critters like to eat meerkats.
Meerkats are perfect snack-size treats for predators like eagles and jackals.
10. There’s a designated lookout.
At least one meerkat will always stands on guard for the gang’s social group.
11. Meerkats have interesting diets!
These cute little critters love to eat scorpions. First, the meerkat bites off the venomous tail, then everything else. If scorpions aren’t available, meerkats will also dine on anything they can overpower, such as beetles, spiders, lizards and small rodents.
They’ll even eat snakes, which is probably why they’re immune to the venom – They are immune to scorpion venom too and can withstand up to six times the snake venom that would kill a rabbit.
12. Meerkats have built-in sunspecs.
Those dark markings under the eyes? They act like sunglasses, allowing the meerkats to see in the harsh desert light.
Their eyes also have a clear protective membrane that shields them from dirt while digging. This does help, as meerkats are excellent diggers and can dig dirt that is almost their body weight!
13. It’s unlikely you will see a meerkat drink.
Living in the deserts and grasslands of southern Africa, meerkats survive without drinking water – they get all the moisture they require from the insects and grubs they feed on.
14. Meerkats are very nippy!
Meerkats can run at a speed of up to 37 mph!
15. Meerkat longevity can double in captivity.
They live an average 7 to 10 years in the wild and 12 to 14 in captivity.
16. Meerkats don’t mind sharing homes!
Meerkats are known to share their burrows with all sort of interesting animals, such as mongoose, ground squirrels and sometimes snakes!
FAQs about Meerkats
Are meerkats deadly?
They can bite when threatened, but it’s even thought that one in five meerkats may be killed by their own kind.
Are meerkats friendly?
It depends - they are fiercely territorial, which means the older they get, the less chance you’ll have of making a friend.
Do meerkats make noises?
When content and happy, meerkats are known to purr!
Do you know any fun facts about meerkats? Share them in the comments below!