They live in families, they stand guard, they babysit... and they can even kill scorpions. Here's our celebration of the popular creatures from the sands of southern Africa's Kalahari Desert.
Discover some interesting new facts about these famous African dwellers:
- Meerkats are social mammals who live in large groups, sometimes comprising of several families living in one large community. These groups are referred to as either a mob, a gang or a clan.
- Meerkats can be found living in the southern African plains.
- Meerkats are actually a variety of mongoose, who are characterised by their ability to stand upright. Female meerkats can even nurse their young while standing.
- A meerkat group operates by having several lookouts, who keep watch over the group against predators, such as large birds of prey. Protected, the rest of the group is able to forage for food until a lookout gives a shrill call to alert to any in-coming danger.
- Meerkats live underground, in large burrows which offer them shade from the hot African climate. In these burrows, the meerkat gang is able to raise their young, with males and siblings all getting involved to teach young meerkats how to play, hunt and hide.
- Female meerkats typically have two to four pups a year.