The meerkat or suricate (Suricata suricatta) is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family (Herpestidae). It is the only member of the genus Suricata. Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, in much of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.
They often stand on their rear legs and gaze alertly over the southern African plains where they live.Mothers can even nurse their young while standing. Meerkats (also called suricates) work together in numbers. meerkats have an average life span of 12–14 years, and about half this in the wild.Meerkats are born with hair but not full coats and with their eyes closed.
They will live in the wild up to 10 years. However, in captivity they can live to be 15 years of age. Although they are relatively healthy animals, they are unfortunately prone to bovine tuberculosis and have been known to get rabies. When they are adults at about one year of age they will weigh around 2 pounds (750 – 820 grams) and stand an average of 12 inches high (30 centimeters). When they are on all four of their feet their height is only 6 inches (15 centimeters). Like all mongooses, they are agile hunters; however, they differ considerably from most of their other relatives. Unlike the typical mongoose of which there are around 35 types, Meerkats live in communities and depend on one another for survival.
There are three other types of sociable mongooses, the Banded, the Kousi Mansi and the Dwarf mongooses. They also live in groups, but are not usually found in the Kalahari desert. While most mongooses are nocturnal, Meerkats hunt during the day. They live at night in burrows, which are complex tunnel systems consisting of mounds, access holes, and tunnels which lead to numerous sleeping chambers. A Meerkat community is called a mob or gang, and can number up to 40. There is always a dominate alpha male and dominate alpha female in each gang.
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