Meerkat

Meerkat Trio Emerges at Zoo Brno

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Three new, curious Meerkat pups recently emerged from their burrow, at Zoo Brno, in the Czech Republic.

The trio was born about a month ago, and this was the first time mom allowed them to venture out of the den.

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4_11146319_927708453934240_2490181021340122698_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Brno

The Meerkat (Suricata suricatta) is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. It is the only member of the genus Suricata. Meerkats are native to all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, much of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and South Africa.

A group of Meerkats is called a “mob”, “gang”, or “clan”. A Meerkat clan often contains about 20 individuals, but some super-families have 50 or more members.

The Meerkat is small, weighing on average about 1.1 to 5.5 lbs. (0.5 to 2.5 kg). Its body length reaches about 14 to 20 inches (35 to 50 cm). The Meerkat uses its tail to balance when standing and for signaling to others. Like cats, Meerkats have binocular vision, their eyes being on the front of their faces.

At the end of each of the Meerkat’s ‘fingers’ is a claw used for digging burrows and searching for food. The claws are used in unison with their muscular hind legs to help climb trees. Meerkats have short parallel stripes across their backs, extending from the base of the tail to the shoulders. The pattern of stripes is unique to each Meerkat. The underside has no markings, but the belly has a patch that is only sparsely covered with hair and shows black skin underneath. This area is used to absorb heat while standing upright, usually early in the morning after cold desert nights.

Meerkats are primarily insectivores but are known to eat lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, eggs, small mammals, plants, and fungi. They are immune to certain types of venom, including that of the scorpions of the Kalahari Desert. Meerkats forage, in a group, with a sentry on guard watching for predators. Baby Meerkats do not start foraging for food until they are about one-month old, and they are allowed to do so with another older member of the clan acting as a tutor.

Meerkats become sexually mature at about two years of age and can have one to four pups in a litter. They are iteroparous and can reproduce any time of the year. The pups are allowed to leave their burrow at two to three weeks of age.

The Meerkat is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


The Pitter Patter of Tiny Meerkat Feet

15_06_5_Meerkat_pups_5_kp_medThe Meerkat exhibit at the Edinburgh Zoo is abuzz with the pitter patter of tiny feet – five babies were born on May 8.

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Photo Credit:  Edinburgh Zoo

The babies were born to Queenie, who is also the mother of three pups born earlier this year.  The pups spent their first few weeks in the nest box with Queenie, but are now beginning to explore their surroundings. 

Meerkats live in groups of 3-50 animals called mobs.  They are cooperative breeders, which means all adults within the group share the responsibility of raising the pups. Keepers have yet to name and determine the gender of the little Meerkats.

Native to the arid grasslands of southern Africa, Meerkats feed on small lizards, frogs, small birds, millipedes, beetles, grasshoppers, and any type of insect they can find.  Groups emerge at dawn to forage, and one Meerkat assumes the role of sentry.  This individual stands atop a rock or other high place and keeps watch for predators.  The mob is alerted of danger by a repertoire of alarm calls, depending on the severity of the threat.

In the wild, Meerkats are not considered under threat.  

See more photos of the baby Meerkats below.

Continue reading "The Pitter Patter of Tiny Meerkat Feet" »


Meerkat Pups Out and About at Edinburgh Zoo

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Keepers at Edinburgh Zoo are delighted to announce the arrival of three Meerkat pups.

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_MG_5374_edited-1_Mike_GilburtPhoto Credits: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

The lively bunch has joined the troop of Meerkats at Meerkat Plaza, in Edinburgh Zoo, and has started to venture outside the safety of the burrow and is slowly learning the ropes.

Andrew Laing, Carnivore Keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said, “The Meerkats are always a favorite with our visitors, so it’s wonderful to see some new additions to the group. At only four weeks old the pups are settling in well and their individual personalities are starting to show. Mum, ‘Queen’, and dad, ‘Ace’, are doing really well and are getting plenty of help from other members of the group to raise the pups. Meerkats are actually cooperative breeders, which mean that all adults within the group will help to care for the young.”

Andrew continued, “Meerkats have a gestation period of around 11 weeks, so we didn't have long to wait for them to arrive, but for the first three weeks of life they stay in the burrow being looked after by the adults. At around four weeks old they will start to explore outside of the den. It’s good to see them out and about learning how to catch their own food.”

Meerkats are the most well-known member of the mongoose family. They inhabit dry, open areas with short grass and sparse woody scrub, mainly in southern Africa.

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More Meerkats for Dartmoor Mob

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Dartmoor Zoological Park, in the UK, is very proud to announce that ‘Xena’, Meerkat mum-in-residence, has given birth to four kits!  

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11043394_10153169586423564_4929633959967411833_oPhoto Credits: Dartmoor Zoological Park

Head Keeper Mike Downman said, “Mum Xena is a very experienced mother, and… it's good to give her a bit of recognition.”

This is Xena’s fifth litter of healthy kits. Some of her offspring are on show at the zoo, while others have been transferred to other collections in the region.

“We don’t know yet which are male or female,” says Mike. “The group is very protective of the new arrivals so it will be a while before we can get a close enough look.”

The kits are now four weeks old, and despite the mystery of what sex they are, the Park is eager to find names for the litter. Name suggestions can be submitted to Dartmoor Zoological Park’s facebook page

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Meet Blackpool's Newborn Meerkat Pups

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A litter of Meerkats was born at the United Kingdom’s Blackpool Zoo on March 6! The teensy pups were photographed before they had even opened their eyes.

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10540607_10152852711433392_8059006185792184401_oPhoto Credit:  Blackpool Zoo

Meerkat litters usually contain two to five pups, which are born in an underground burrow.  Members of the troop pitch in to cooperatively raise the young.  For the first three weeks of life, the pups remain in the burrow.

When the pups are about four weeks old, they start to accompany their group on foraging runs, where they eventually learn to capture insects and other invertebrates to eat.  The pups become mature at about one year old.

Well known for their highly social behavior, Meerkats dig elaborate burrow systems to house their group of up to 50 individuals.  Meerkats rely a group member to act as a sentry, usually stationed on an elevated mound or rock, to keep a lookout for danger.  Meerkats have a vast repertoire of calls, grunts, and barks to alert group members to different types of threats.  Certain alarm calls will send the Meerkats into the burrow for protection.

Found in southern Africa, Meerkats are plentiful and not listed as Endangered or Threatened. 

 


It’s All About that Pumpkin

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Pumpkins are everywhere, this time of year! They make great pies, Jack-O-Lanterns, and pretty awesome enrichment toys for zoo animals. Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

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Photo Credits: Tammy Spratt/San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Image 1: African Lion Cub); Amiee Stubbs Photography (Image 2: "Charlie" the Porcupine at Nashville Zoo); Lincoln Children's Zoo (Image 3: "Lincoln" the Red Panda); ZooAmerica (Image 4: "Rainier" the Mountain Lion); Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn (Image 5: Elephants); Sue Ogrocki (Images 6-Gorilla,7-Red River Hogs,10-Galapagos Tortoise at Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens); Minnesota Zoo (Image 8: Lynx); The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens (Image 9: Meerkats)

More great pumpkin pics below the fold!

Continue reading "It’s All About that Pumpkin" »


Adventures in Babysitting for Meerkat Mob

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Zoo Osnabrück, in Germany, is home to four new Meerkat pups!

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Meerkats_ZooOsnabruck_1Photo Credits: Zoo Osnabrück

The youngsters were born September 2nd and are, now, wonderfully playful six-week-olds! ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ have their hands full but are assisted in babysitting duties by their elder offspring.

Meerkats are native to the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, much of the Namib Desert, southwestern Angola, and South Africa. They are members of the mongoose family and primarily insectivores, but Meerkats will also eat other small animals, reptiles, arachnids, birds and fungi.

Meerkats are small burrowing animals, living in large underground networks with multiple entrances which they leave only during the day. They are very social, living in colonies, known as ‘clans’ or ‘mobs’, of about 20-50 individuals.

Meerkats forage in a group with one ‘sentry’ on guard watching for predators while the others search for food. A Meerkat can dig through a quantity of sand equal to its own weight in just seconds.Baby Meerkats do not start foraging for food until they are about one month old, and do so by following an older member of the group who acts as the pup's tutor. The Meerkat standing guard makes peeping sounds when all is well. If the Meerkat spots danger, it barks loudly or whistles.

There are, currently, no major threats to the Meerkat, in the wild.  Their main predators are martial eagles and jackals. They occasionally succumb to snakebites from confrontations, as well. They are, at this time, classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

More awesome pics below the fold!

Continue reading "Adventures in Babysitting for Meerkat Mob" »


New Meerkats Join the Mob

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Four new Meerkat “kits” were born September 26th, at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington!  They’ll be on exhibit for the first time during the “Zoo Boo” event, occurring, at the zoo, this weekend, October 18th and 19th

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10661961_10152494376634624_2497394806536504099_oPhoto Credits: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

The four babies bring the Meerkat total to 21, for the zoo. The little ones weigh just 90 grams, which is comparable to about a half-cup of M&Ms candy!

Meerkats, 'Suricata suricatta', are native to the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, much of the Namibian Desert, southwestern Angola, and South Africa. They are small, diurnal, group-living carnivores belonging to the Herpestid family (mongooses). Primarily insectivores, they will, however, also eat smaller animals, arachnids, small birds, and fungi.

Meerkats are sexually mature at about one year and breed year-round. After an 11 week gestation, females give birth to an average of 3 offspring. Females can have as many as 3 litters a year. Babies are usually weaned between 49 and 63 days. Both parents, as well as non-breeding helpers, provide care to the offspring.

Meerkats are highly social. A meerkat group, known as a “mob" "clan" or "gang," may include as many as three family groups (up to 30 individuals). Each family group is made up of parents and their offspring. Mobs live in burrows consisting of elaborate tunnel systems with multiple entrances. Their dark skin and hair help them absorb heat. When it's time to eat, one adult stays with the young as a "babysitter" while the rest of the mob forages by digging in soil and grass or overturning rocks. They will also take turns doing other jobs, including "sentry," "teacher" and "hunter."

Meerkats are currently listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.


Baby Meerkat Emerges from the Burrow at Longleat

Baby meerkat at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park two PIC Ian TurnerA baby Meerkat is making its first public appearance at the United Kingdom’s Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

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Baby meerkat and adult at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park PIC Ian TurnerPhoto Credit:  Ian Turner
 

Although born in May, the pup has spent the last two months inside an underground den with first-time parents Cassie and Pipsqueak.  This week, the baby is venturing outside for the first time!

“It’s been a long wait but the pup is now loving the outside and can be regularly spotted alongside the six other adults in this group,” said Longleat’s Darren Beasley.  “All the older Meerkats take turns in keeping watch over the baby and share any tasty bugs that they find.”   Keepers don’t know the baby’s gender yet.

Baby Meerkats are born virtually naked and helpless with their eyes closed. They spend the first weeks of life underground and are completely reliant on their mother’s milk.  Once they begin venturing outside, they stay close to their burrows under the watchful eye of a Meerkat babysitter.

At around two months of age the pups, although still nursing, will start foraging for insects and other food items with the rest of the group but it can take up to 16 weeks for them to be completely weaned.

Native to southern Africa, Meerkats spend much of their day sunbathing.  Lying on their backs, their dark-skinned, sparsely-furred bellies act as 'solar panels' to warm them up.

Meerkats have a wide vocabulary with a variety of alarm calls. Meerkats are relatively long-lived, particularly in captivity where individuals can live for up to 12 years or more.


Five Baby Meerkats Arrive Mob-handed at Chester Zoo

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At the UK's Chester Zoo, five baby meerkats have taken their first steps into the outside world. 

The tiny newcomers made their first public appearances after being hidden away in burrows by their parents since being born on April 20.

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Team manager Dave White said:



“All of the pups are full of rough and tumble. They’re a real handful for mum, dad and the other adults in the mob who, between them, are doing their best to keep them in check.



“At the moment our new quintet are much too small to sex but we should know if they’re male or female in the next couple of weeks.”



The meerkats come hot on the heels of other new arrivals at the zoo. A rare baby warty pig and two warthog piglets have also made their debuts in recent weeks.