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Adorable Meerkats!

Updated on October 5, 2014
Meerkat | Source

And The Interesting Lives They Lead!

Meerkats are adorable mammals in the mongoose family. The mongoose family consists of small, cat-like animals such as the Marsh Mongoose, the Flat-Headed Kusimanse, the Bushy-Tailed Mongoose, and many others. Yet, even though meerkats are cat-like animals, and "kat" is part of their name, they are not cats. In fact, unlike many types of cats, they are very social and prefer living in large groups, called mobs or gangs.

Meerkats work together to take care of the whole mob. They share the responsibilities of raising the kits and watching out for predators. They even work together as a team to fight off enemies when necessary. Meerkats need one another.

Like most living things, meerkats are well adapted to living where they do. This page will tell you about some of the things that make them unique.

Many of the photos on this page were taken by my son, Alex Tobey. He also wrote most of the article.

What Do Meerkats Look Like?

Pretty cute, if you ask me!

Here's what they look like!
Here's what they look like! | Source

Here's A Great Photo Showing The Back Of A Meerkat

Look how well camouflaged he is.
Look how well camouflaged he is. | Source


Meerkats have brown and gray fur. They are about 12 inches tall when standing up on two legs, and 6 inches tall when they are on all fours. They weigh only a few pounds and are about the size of a squirrel. They have pointed black noses and black rings around their eyes. Their ears and the tips of their tails are dark. Dark horizontal stripes cross their backs. Each foot has four toes. Their long tail helps them balance when they are standing up on two legs.

They may look adorable most of the time, but they do have teeth!

Yawning | Source

Where do they live?

They live in the southern part of Africa.

South Africa
South Africa | Source

Meerkats live in the bottom part of Africa.

They live in parts of the Namib desert, the Kalahari Desert and other areas in Botswana, southwestern Angola, and South Africa.

Meerkats live in an area that is mostly dry grass and sand. There are not many trees or other plants. There is very little shade, and not much water either, because it doesn't rain very often. Temperatures range from freezing to 122 F!

Here is some more information about the African Savanna.

They live in these areas.

Kalahari desert:
Kalahari Desert

get directions

Namib desert:
Namib Desert, Namibia

get directions

South Africa:
South Africa

get directions

Southwest Angolia:

get directions

Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana:
Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana

get directions

This Meerkat Lives in the Kalahari Desert

Kalahari Desert
Kalahari Desert | Source

This group lives in Nambia.

Nambia | Source

Here's Another Map Showing Where Meerkats Live.

Map showing where meerkats live in the wild
Map showing where meerkats live in the wild | Source

You can see some of these cute animals living in Botswana in this amusing video!

Meerkat Behavior

Meerkats are able to easily sit up, as well as stand on two or four legs.

They are able to easily sit up, as well as stand on two or four legs.
They are able to easily sit up, as well as stand on two or four legs. | Source

They use their tails to help them balance when they're standing up on two legs.

They  use their tails to help them balance when they're standing up on two legs.
They use their tails to help them balance when they're standing up on two legs. | Source

They dig burrows in the sand.

A burrow in the sand.
A burrow in the sand. | Source

Sentries Are Look-Outs For The Rest Of The Mob.

Sentry | Source

Protecting the mob

Adults meerkats take turns being guards, called sentries or look-outs, as the other meerkats in the mob hunt for food.They climb small trees or stand on piles of dirt or rocks in order to be able to see better. Their job is to protect the mob.

When they see a predator coming, the sentry makes a loud barking sound. As the predator gets closer, the barking gets louder. The other meerkats hear it and run inside their burrows. If necessary, sentries sometimes dig up dirt to make clouds of dust to allow the other meerkats and themselves a chance to escape.

Sometimes meerkats work together to fight off a predator.They stay close together and try to look like one large animal. They puff up their fur and hold their tails high in the air, while charging and hissing at the predator. If the predator doesn't go away, they lie on their backs and bite and scratch the enemy!


To help them survive in hot, dry regions

How Do They Survive In the Dry Savanna?

It's often very hot and dry in the grasslands or savanna of Africa.
It's often very hot and dry in the grasslands or savanna of Africa. | Source

Meerkats are adapted to living in hot, dry places.

There are many adaptations which help meerkats survive in the often hot and dry savanna. The color of their fur matches the sand and dry grasses where they live, giving them good camouflage. The dark patches around their eyes act like sunglasses and also make them look like bigger animals to their enemies. Meerkats have a thin membrane between their eye and eyelid which helps sweep away sand and dirt every time they blink. They have sharp teeth which make hunting easier. They can smell bugs which are underground.

Because there are not many trees or caves on the savanna, meerkats lives in underground burrows. Sometimes they use the burrows of other types of animals. Other times they actually share burrows with other types of animals who are still living in them! But most often they dig their own burrows. They have long claws for digging in the hard desert soil and are able to dig burrows 5 to 10 feet deep in the ground, which helps them stay cool during the day and warm at night.

Look at those claws!

Look at those claws!
Look at those claws! | Source

My dinner's in here somewhere!

My dinner's in here somewhere!
My dinner's in here somewhere! | Source

They Can Close Their Ears Without Using Their Paws! - Closing their ears is important for meerkats who are digging!

Meerkats can close their ears, which is often necessary when digging!
Meerkats can close their ears, which is often necessary when digging! | Source

Why meerkats need to be able to close their ears

When meerkats smell some prey under the ground, they rapidly start digging! And boy do they dig! In only a few seconds, they can dig up as much dirt as they weigh! Because dirt flies everywhere as they dig, they often close their ears to keep the dirt out of them!

The text is in French, but I found a website which shows two photos clearly highlighting the difference in meerkats' ears when they are closed and when they are open. (After you click the link, scroll down to see the two photos of a meerkat's ears.)

What Do Meerkats Eat?

What Do They Eat? - Guess what their FAVORITE food is!

Scorpions are their favorite food!
Scorpions are their favorite food! | Source

They eat plants and animals - especially scorpions!

Meerkats eat both plants and animals. They enjoy fruits, roots of plants, and eggs. They eat various types of bugs, such as termites, beetles, centipedes, and grubs, as well as worms and snails. They also eat mice, birds, lizards, and snakes, which they kill by biting and shaking them.

But guess what their favorite food is! The scorpion!! It isn't that scorpion venom doesn't bother meerkats at all, as is commonly believed. Instead, Meerkats have developed a technique which keeps them safe while allowing them to enjoy the tasty treat of a scorpion. They first bite off the tail of the scorpion, and then drag the scorpion's body through the sand to remove any traces of venom on the exoskeleton! Thus, they can eat scorpions without being bitten! Baby meerkats are not born knowing how to carry out this technique, and so other members of the mob teach them, one step at a time. For more information on how meerkats eat scorpions, you may wish to visit: Are meerkats immune to poison?, by Josh Clark.

Like all living things, meerkats need water. But water is often hard to find in the savanna! Sometimes they find water in streams or puddles, but they get most of their water from their food.

Baby Meerkats Are Called Kits Or Pups.

Baby Meerkat

Meerkat Baby at the Basel zoo
Meerkat Baby at the Basel zoo | Source

Did you know baby meerkats have babysitters that give mom a break?

Baby Meerkats Have Babysitters and Teachers

Baby meerkats can be called either kits or pups. They are born unable to see or hear, and can't even move around much at first. They stay in an underground den until they are three to four weeks old.

Kits have babysitters to watch after them and keep them safe. The babysitters can lose up to 2% of their weight in a day of babysitting, from not being able to hunt for food! They do this to allow the new mother a chance to hunt and eat. She must eat, or she won't be able to nurse her babies!

When they are older, young meerkats each get their own teacher. Teachers show them everything they need to know about being meerkats, including how to safely eat scorpions.

Some Babies With Their Mom Or Babysitter


These kits are just coming out of their den for the first time!

More Resources

Meerkat Resources - For more information!

If you are doing a report on meerkats, or would simply like to find out more about them, you may wish to refer to one or more of the following resources.


Meerkat info.

Official Meerkat Information.

San Diego Zoo's Animal Bytes: Meerkat.

National Geographic Wild: Meerkats


Schleichert, Elizabeth. "Meet The Meerkats." Ranger Rick July 2005: 22-27.

Books and other resources:


There is lots of interesting text and wonderful photos in this book! This book would be great for elementary aged or young middle school kids who have an interest in learning about meerkats.

This is a fabulous meerkat documentary hosted by David Attenborough.

A Mob of Meerkats

This book would be great for third graders to young middle schoolers who are writing a report for school. Each page has about 2 paragraphs of text. Nice photos too!


This nonfiction book for children 7 and up has beautiful photos and interesting, informative text! Information is included about meerkat's habits, appearance, diet, and relationship to humans.

For Younger Children

Meerkats: Safari Animals

This nonfiction book is geared for children in preschool or kindergarten. The text is easy to read, and not overwhelming in quantity for younger children. Pages consist of one to three easy-to-read sentences and beautiful, colorful photos. It's a great way to introduce young children to meerkats.

Meet The Meerkat

This is a nice nonfiction book for preschoolers, kindergarteners, and first graders. It has wonderful photographs in addition to information about meerkats. The text is very simple and repetitive - a plus for those just learning how to read.

Here's a short sample of the text:

"When I see danger I shout,
to my brothers and sisters."

Just for Fun!

Meerkat Mail

This is a fiction book about a meerkat living in the Kalahari desert with his brothers and sisters. One day he decides he wants to get away for a while, so he goes on a trip. On the trip, he sends back postcards (which can really be opened and read). During the trip he comes to realize that there really is no place like home. Written for ages 4 and up.

Mini Flopsie

This stuffed animal is very soft and cuddly! It's stuffed with beans and is very sturdy and durable! Approximately 8 by 4 by 4 inches in size.

200 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle with Large Sturdy Pieces


Thanks for visiting!

Thanks for visiting my site on meerkats!

Comments? Questions?

Did you learn anything new about meerkats?

There is a guestbook at the bottom of the page for your questions or comments!

© 2009 JanieceTobey


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      These are so cute.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      5 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      My daughter's favorite animal is the Meerkat. What a fascinating review of the life of the Meerkat -- I'll have to share it with her.

    • sharonbellis profile image

      Sharon Bellissimo 

      5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      I just recently watched a documentary on meerkats. They are such fascinating animals! Loved your lens.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I just love meerkats. I could sit and watch them for hours. I did not know they eat scorpions. What a complex society they have. Great lens.

    • nickybutler profile image


      6 years ago

      Fabulous lens, incredibly cute photos! Thanks for sharing :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you, great lens!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Loved the informative, unique info and pictures. Became interested in Meerkats when read about them in National Geographic, I believe, or a similar publication.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What a delightful lens, thank you for sharing the joy of the meerkats.

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 

      6 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      They have such personalities!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I also think they are adorable.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      Very interesting page on meerkats, I enjoyed my visit here and learned some new things about them!

    • magictricksdotcom profile image


      6 years ago

      You certainly put together a massive lens on meercats. Well done!

    • snazzify lm profile image

      Katie Harp 

      6 years ago

      blessed by a squid angel :) <3

    • MelonyVaughan profile image


      6 years ago

      What a beautiful lens! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you for this lens. Meerkats are just too cute - such amazing little characters! I'm here on Squidoo reviewing a new social networking game that features all sorts of animals, including some adorable meerkats. If you're on Facebook, do a search for Safari Sanctuary and check out the meerkats!

    • CruiseReady profile image


      6 years ago from East Central Florida

      So cute! You just can't help but say "awwwww."

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      A very well researched and informative lens. Congrats on a well deserved purple star.

    • girlfriendfactory profile image


      6 years ago

      These little guys are so cute! You gave a ton of great info on them and I love that you write your own stuff! Kudos to you and thank you for keeping the layout user friendly! This terrific lens is more than worthy of a Flyby Winging and it can be found among the other blessed lenses for today at Have Wings Will Bless! They may call me an aimless wanderer, but not all who wander are aimless and I'm glad my aim was good when I wandered upon this. ~Ren

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Just thought I'd drop by to enjoy your adorable meerkats once again, I had forgotten that their favorite food is scorpions! I guess we're all willing to take a bit of a risk for our favorite foods.

    • LouisaDembul profile image


      6 years ago

      Very well presented facts about meerkats and wonderful pictures.

    • Zut Moon profile image

      Zut Moon 

      6 years ago

      I think meerkats are neat. They remind me of cats. You didn't show any links for recipes .... just kidding ....

    • TrentAdamsCA profile image


      6 years ago

      Enjoyed the informative details -- such as that they can close their ears -- and all the great meerkat pics. Cutest animal of the day! Thanks.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 

      6 years ago

      Lots of useful info about meerkats here. Thanks!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Oh my God! Those are the cutest things ever! Blessed!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love your lenses. If I had time to view them all in one day I would.

    • lilymom24 profile image


      7 years ago

      Meerkats are SO cute and their babies are Adorable!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I truly adore Meerkats...I watched the entire TV series on Animal Planet, cried when Shakespeare died, and rejoiced when the mob was able to get away from their attackers. My uncle bought me a statue for my garden of three meerkats, standing and watching out for their family. I love the lens too, you did an excellent job! Blessed.

    • kathysart profile image


      7 years ago

      They are SOOO CUTE!!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      Fascinating and adorable creatures. They obviously have better luck with scorpions than I have had (having been painfully stung by one). Learned a great deal here and enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you for teaching me more about meerkats. *Blessed*

    • akumar46 lm profile image

      akumar46 lm 

      7 years ago

      Lovely lens on lovely meerkats.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful lens! I love meerkats - they just look so cute and funny!

    • David Dove profile image

      David Dove 

      7 years ago

      Outstanding lens, thank you

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Wonderful information on meerkats. Blessed and featured on By Kids 4 Kids.

    • straw-hut profile image


      7 years ago

      They are adorable--and they don't even know how cute they are!

    • debnet profile image


      7 years ago from England

      Meerkats are used in an insurance advertising campaign here in the UK so their popularity has grown even more. Blessed by a squid Angel ;)

    • GonnaFly profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      I love these little guys! Just returning to bless this lens and to let you know it's been featured on my new animal alphabet lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Love meerkats. Such charming creatures--even on a diet of scorpions!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      7 years ago from Ljubljana

      So cute, kids love watching them too:)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Too gorgeous! Thanks for sharing this with us :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Such fascinating little critters - I just want to hug them!

    • TenerifeLowcost profile image


      7 years ago

      We call my mum a meerkat as she is SO nosey - totally showing her your lens!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I think they are just so adorable.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Meerkats are so adorable!

    • hotbrain profile image


      7 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      Great Meerkat pictures! I've heard of a Meerkat before but didn't know much about it. Excellent lens :) I love all kinds of animals.

    • ZenandChic profile image


      7 years ago

      They are so cute!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      They're just so cute when they sit up.

    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 

      7 years ago from USA

      I could watch meerkats all day long. Double blessed by an angel ~

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      the first meerkat I found in my life - Timoon from Lion King :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Seriously cute!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      My 85 year old father was fascinated when he found a documentary about meercats on cable TV. I need to share this with him.

    • MagpieNest profile image


      7 years ago

      Brilliant. Fascinating creatures aren't they! Loads of great meerkat info.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      7 years ago

      Thumbs up lens. I lensrolled it to my Got Lemurs? because, well, they look a little alike.

    • EditPhotos profile image

      Edit Photos 

      7 years ago from Earth

      Awesome lens. I love meerkats and now I know more about them!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great social animal and just fun to watch!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This webpage is absolutely beautiful and I am so glad I found it! Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You took my idea - wanted to write about meerkats - oh well, you did a great job.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      What interesting little creatures. Blessed by a squid angel.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      We are talking major adorable here! The mob is an amazingly supportive cooperative community and any critter who favors scorpion on their dinner plate is certainly feisty enough to hold their own. Delightfully done!

    • javr profile image


      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      These are adorable animals. Blessed.

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 

      8 years ago

      Adorable :)

    • Jack2205 profile image


      8 years ago

      Meerkats are cute. I used to watch that tv show about them on Animal Planet. Excellent informative lens. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • stuhaynes lm profile image

      stuhaynes lm 

      8 years ago

      I think we all love Meerkats. A big 'thumbs up' from me for this lens. In reference to AndyPo's comment below. Earlier this week I published a lens that collates all of the UK ad videos that Andy refers to. You may like to visit. AndyPo is dead right, they are very funny and extremely well shot.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Excellent lens. I love watching meerkats. I have seen them while on safari in Namibia, southern Africa (and at London Zoo a few weeks ago) Have you seen the spoof UK "Compare The Meerkat" advertisements and web-site in which Russian meerkats sell insurance...? Quite funny

    • Carmel Aaron profile image

      Carmel Aaron 

      8 years ago

      Thanks Janiece,

      I don't think I ever heard of them before. They are cute, and your lens is very informative.

      Thanks for sharing with us.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 

      8 years ago from Idaho

      The meerkats are so cute, I just love the little meerkat toys too! :) Great informative lens! I really liked how you put together at the top what will be found on your lens, it really looks professional.

    • CastleRoyLisa profile image


      8 years ago from Rhode Island

      My husband is a huge Meerkat fan and i must say I like them as well I am sending him the lens at his work email right now lol I love the figurines and toys I think I have a gift idea thanks this is a wonderful lens

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 

      8 years ago from California

      Oh my gosh, I love meerkats and so does my husband. Great lens. Like, favorite and I'm a FAN! Bear hugs, Frankster

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Meerkats are adorable and so is your lens! The time and effort you put into this really shows! - Kathy

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Adorable... and very tough little animals. There's a great advert running in the UK at the moment for a website called ''. They have based it on something called '' with Russian (?) meerkats. It'll be on YouTube. Simples!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Im from denmark and i shall whrite about meerkats on english :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Awwwww! I love Meerkats :) This is a great lens!

    • GonnaFly profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      Excellent 5* lens. We watched Meerkat Manor on TV a while ago and it was absolutely fascinating - almost like a soap opera :-) I love these creatures!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Nice lens., very well done..I didn't know much about I do...thanks!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image


      9 years ago


      My name is Elizabeth Jean Allen and I am the new group leader for the Nature and the Outdoors Group.


    • draik profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for joining All About Animals Group. Your lens was added to our feature module and it will appear randomly.

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 

      9 years ago

      This is a great lens! Welcome to The Homeschooling Group!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Amazing information about meerkats! I learned a lot here and was very surprised to find out that they eat scorpions. Welcome to the Squid Kids group. :)

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image


      9 years ago

      My son is a huge MeerKat fan. He loves MeerKat manor and has several stuffed meerkats, the calendar and even a photoshopped picture of him hanging out with some meerkats. I'll have to show him this!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Great work here. I sure learned a lot about Meerkats. I love your links with your table of contents. Welcome to the South Carolina Group.

    • Barkely profile image


      9 years ago

      Meerkats are such interesting creatures. Thanks for adding this lens to the Fun For Kids group:-)

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Wonderful animals aren't they? You show them off to great advantage in this delightful lens

    • VladimirCat profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      Interesting creatures but their diet leaves a lot to be desired. Scorpions?

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 

      9 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Squeeeee! Super cute and informative lens! 5*

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      9 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      How cute can you get? 5* and an angel blessing...

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      9 years ago

      awww...they are sooo cute! very cool lens 5*

    • Karicor profile image


      9 years ago

      Love the Meerkats, and your lens showcases them beautifully. It's just the right mix of information and nice, big pictures. SquidAngel blessings from me as well! ^:)^

    • Nochipra profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens! I saw some of these at a zoo in PA. I also enjoyed watching that tv show Meercat Manor a while back.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Well done lens on the Meerkat! You have included some great information! Wonderful pictures to! Blessed


    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      9 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      One of my favorite critters to watch when we visit the zoo. They're always so busy!

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      9 years ago

      Meerkats are so interesting. Our cat sits up like that and we say she is meerkatting.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Delightful lens. Love the photos - blessed by this Angel too!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Great pictures & great report!

      Blessed by an Angel!


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