They are one of the cutest critters on the planet and today we’re going to take a deeper dive into the lives, habitats and habits of meerkats, plus, where to spot them at Busch Gardens Tampa:
They Live in the Desert
Meerkats live in one of the hottest and driest deserts on the planet, the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa.
They Work Together
One of the more social animals of the planet, meerkats live in groups ranging from 3 to 50 members. Everyone participates in gathering food, keeping a lookout for predators and taking care of babies.
They Live Under Ground
Meerkat’s habitats consist of underground burrows on sandy plains covered with grasses and thorn scrub. The animals dig the burrows with their long sharp claws. The burrows can be up to 10 feet deep with winding, interconnected tunnels and may contain 20 different entrances.
They Are Small But Mighty
Although meerkats weigh less than two pounds and are only a foot in height, they are strong. What they lack in weight and height they make up for in strength by being able to shovel dirt weighing several hundred times their body weight.
They Dig Bolt Holes
In addition to the burrows, meerkats dig bolt holes throughout their foraging area, where they can hide in an emergency. If they are caught out in the open by a predator, a meerkat will try to look fierce, lying on its back and showing its teeth and claws. If in a group, the animals will stand together, arching their backs, raising their hair and hissing.
They Only Go Outside During Day
Meerkats only go outside during the daytime. Each morning, the mob emerges and begins looking for food. They use their keen sense of smell to sniff out beetles, caterpillars, spiders and scorpions.
They Have Incredible Vision
The dark fur around meerkat’s eyes act as sunglasses, reducing the glare and allowing them to see across the desert. Meerkats also have a dictating membrane, which works like a windshield wiper, removing sand from their eyes when they blink.
They Are Great Communicators
Meerkats are excellent communicators. They use sound, scent and body language to communicate with one another. Over 20 different sounds have been recorded from meerkats, all of which have different meanings.
They Can Live a While
Meerkats average lifespan is between 12 and 14 years.
They Are Not Considered Threatened
Unlike many of the animals we highlight, meerkats are abundant throughout their range and are not considered threatened or endangered. However, they are constantly threatened by predators, rival meerkats, drought and burrow-flooding rainstorms.
Catch these furry friends at the Edge of Africa at Busch Gardens Tampa.