Meerkats! Find out everything you need to know about these African critters. Learn about meerkat habitats, behavior, babies, and more with these amazing meerkat facts for kids. Did you know that meerkats were mammals or immune to poison? Keep reading to learn more about meerkats.
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Meerkat Facts for Kids
Meerkats are mammals. They are part of the mongoose family. A mongoose is a furry animal with a long body and tail that lives in Africa and Asia.
Meerkats are 11-19 inches long with bushy tan-brown striped fur. They have four legs and a long tail. Meerkats have big eyes with dark patches around them. The dark patches help protect their eyes from the glare of the sun. They also have a black patch on the tip of their tail. They have a pointy nose and long sharp claws to help them dig.
Meerkats weigh between 1.5-2 pounds. Male and females are the same size.
Meerkats love hot and dry climates; they live in grasslands and deserts on the southern tip of Africa. They live in the Kalahari Desert and the Namib Desert in Namibia, Angola, and South Africa.
Meerkats live in underground burrows. A burrow is a hole or tunnel underground that an animal uses as a home. Meerkat burrows can have 15 tunnels with rooms. Meerkats only come out of their burrows during the day.
Meerkats are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. Meerkats do not store body fat. They spend a lot of time looking for food. Meerkats enjoy eating a variety of things, including beetles, lizards, grubs, insects, small snakes, eggs, small birds, scorpions, and plants. Meerkats have long curvy claws and four digging paws that they use to dig to find food.
They have a strong sense of smell and can smell food under the dirt or sand.
They dig bolt holes while searching for food.. Bolt holes are holes that are used to escape from predators.
Meerkats are intelligent animals. They are very social animals and live in groups called a mob or gangs. Mobs/gangs can have as little as three members to as many as 50 members. They come up with systems within the mob or gang to help survive.
Meerkats work, play, and sleep with their mob/gang members. Each member of the mob/gang has a job.
Meerkat Jobs within the mob or gang
Hunters– members that find food
Teachers– members that teach young meerkats how to find food and show them how to eat.
Babysitters– Watch young meerkats.
Feeders– Mothers and other female members of the group feed their milk to babies.
Guards – Members who stand on high ground and look for predators.
Meerkats like to snuggle to keep warm. They also like to lay out in the sun.
Meerkats are very social with other members of the same mob or gang; however, they are very territorial and get into fights with meerkats from different mobs/gangs.
A mamma meerkat usually gives birth to a litter of 3-4 baby meerkats. Babies are called pups, kits, kittens, or even cubs. Babies are born underground where they can be safe from hungry predators.
Pups are born with their eyes closed, deaf and hairless. Their ears will open within ten days, and their eyes will open within 10-14 days. Babies stay underground with their mothers for 3-4 weeks. Then they will come out and learn how to survive. At ten months old, the meerkat goes out on its own.
Female meerkat members of the mob/gang help take care of pups.
Meerkat predators include eagles, jackals, and hawks.
When predators arrive, they will sometimes stand together and show their teeth and hiss. Other times they will run and jump into a bolt hole.
A bolt hole is a hole that is dug to escape from danger.
Meerkat Facts for Kids
Meerkats live 10 years in the wild and 13 years in captivity.
They are not an endangered species.
Meerkats do not drink water. They get all the water they need from the food they eat.
Meerkats can dig hundreds of holes in one morning.
They are immune to scorpion poison and snake venom.
Meerkats become friends with each other through a grooming process when they remove fleas from each other’s fur.
Meerkats can run up to 19 miles per hr and can climb.