A Meerkat is a small mammal and is part of the mongoose family. They originate from the South African Kalahari dessert. A group of meerkats is usually called a mob which can have up to 40 members in the wild. Within each mob there is always a dominant male and female.
Our group of meerkats consists of 12 with 4 young meerkats, the newest editions to the mob, ‘Kenya’ and ‘Mkali’ born on the 14th of September 2011. They are getting on really well and developing their own personalities.
Each morning we will feed the meerkats fruit and veg, they then get their scatter feed of meal worms in the afternoon and then eggs, chicks, mice and insects in the evening. Meerkats can live up to 15 years of age and our oldest meerkat is approximately 7 years old. Aja is our dominant female in this group and usually the alpha pair will be the only pair to breed in the mob. Whilst the alpha pair will breed, no other meerkats will.
Aja will be the first one on your knee after food and attention and will be seen chasing off the other meerkats whilst she gets her food so you have to be careful with her. Meerkats are very sociable and they each carry out their own role to look after the mob. Some of these roles consist of baby siting youngsters, hunters who hunt for the food and finally some have sentry duty where they act as look-outs will keep an eye out for predators. This is where they stand tall on high platforms looking out for prey that could threaten them.They communicate by making a murmuring or quiet barking sound to inform other members of the mob of what they have found. Meerkats use their tail to help them balance when standing up high on their legs and for signalling to other mob members.
Baby meerkats will stay in burrows under-ground with their baby sitters until they are at least 3-4 weeks days old.