1. On guard
While the rest of the meerkat gang are busy foraging for food there will always be at least one meerkat on guard making sure that everyone else is safe – this dutiful meerkat is known as the sentry. If the sentry notices a possible threat, they’ll alert the others with a bark or whistle so everyone can run to the nearest hole for safety.
2. A home underground
Although Meerkats are excellent diggers, they’ll often decide to make a home out of a hole dug by another animal (why start from scratch, right?). Just like any homeowner, they’ll then start some minor renovations to make it more like home – they’ll add some additional rooms and entrances/exits to ensure there’s enough room for each member of their social group – which can be up to 40 individuals!
But these meerkat burrows are more than just a safe place away from the dangers of the African Savannah. Since temperatures underground remain fairly constant, it’s also a retreat from the heat during the day and cold at night.
3. Babysitters club
While most of the gang are off foraging for food or on sentry duty, there’s always at least one young adult male or female meerkat that stays behind to look after the pups. But don’t worry, the meerkat babysitting doesn’t miss out on eating – the rest of the meerkats reward their pup minding with food!
4. Females rule the roost
Meerkats live in a matriarchal society, which means the females are the ones that are in charge! The dominant female is not only tasked with finding new burrows for her group, but she is also the only female that is allowed to breed. But don’t think this means the alpha female will be raising her pups on her own - the other females in the group share the parenting duties.
5. Naked and blind
Meerkats are born blind and mostly hairless. For the first four weeks of their life, the pups are snug in the nesting chamber of their labyrinth burrow home. During this time, they will start to grow hair, their eyes and ears open, and develop their strength by wriggling and wrestling with each other. When they’re strong enough, they’ll then emerge from the burrow and join the world above.
Can’t get enough of meerkat antics? Be sure to visit Perth Zoo’s meerkats in the African Savannah precinct the next time you’re at the Zoo!