Meer-aculous Meerkat Babysitting
Tuesday 4 October 2011
Famous for their unique spying skills, the meerkats at ZSL London Zoo are busy babysitting two month old pups nicknamed Whiskers, Otis, Snuggles, Flora and Merryweather.
The furry fellows first opened their peepers in August 10 2011 and since then have kept the whole gang on their toes with babysitting duties.
Keeper Nicky Jago explains: ‘The breeding pair is in charge but when they need a well earned rest, the remaining adults in the meerkat mob help out with the pups.’
Generally the pups are born underground where they remain for the first two or three weeks of their lives. They still retreat to their cosy, dry downstairs dwelling during cold or wet spells of weather. Meerkats are sociable souls and can live in groups of up to 30 individuals. Both male and female meerkats babysit but commonly there’s a slight trend for females to do a bit more. No one knows the exact reason why the males babysit, but research has revealed hormones inspire babysitting in male meerkats.
Come and see Whiskers, Otis, Snuggles, Flora and Merryweather in the Happy Families exhibit
Five facts about meerkats:
• Furry families. Meerkats adore being together; a group of meerkats is called a mob or gang.
• Burrow pinching! Meerkats usually live in burrows dug by other animals including ground squirrels.
• The dark rings around a meerkats eyes are not just for show, they also help them see better in scorching sunlight.
• In the mood for food. Meerkats just love to tuck into ants, termites, beetle grubs, small snakes, geckos, lizards and scorpions.
• The Meerkat security service. Adults take turn to keep guard, if a predator is spotted the guard alerts the gang with a bark or a whistle. Now that’s meer-aculous!