We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Meerkat?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
All Things Nature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All Things Nature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A meerkat or suricate is a South African member of the mongoose family. Many people find the animals endearing to look at, and biologists are also intrigued by meerkat behavior, since the animals engage in several unique activities. In many parts of Africa, meerkats are considered lucky, much as mongeese are in India. The animals can be seen on display in many zoos, and in some regions of the world they are tamed and kept as pets.

The scientific name for the meerkat is Suricata suricatta. The common name is an Afrikaaner loan word. A group of meerkats is referred to as a clan, mob, or gang; meerkat gangs may contain as many as 30 individuals. The social structure of a meerkat mob is very altruistic, with members of the clan actively helping each for the betterment of the group as a whole. This distinctive trait may be one of the reasons humans find meerkats so endearing.

The coat of a meerkat is sandy brown, with distinctive stripes and a tapering black to reddish tail. The animals have narrow faces with crescent shaped ears which can be swiveled shut to protect the ear canal during digging activity. Meerkats also have distinctive black markings around their eyes, which help to cut down on glare from the sun. The skin of meerkats is black, and they have thin hair on their stomachs so that they can bask in the sun and rapidly absorb heat.

Meerkats use their powerful legs and claws to dig extensive networks of tunnels and dens underground. Typically, the animals seal themselves underground at night, opening runs as needed during the day. The animals are carnivorous, eating insects and other small creatures, and they appear to be capable of breeding several times a year. Generally, only the alpha pair in a meerkat gang breeds, although all members of the group participate in raising the young.

Starting in 2004, a documentary about several meerkat clans was broadcast on television in Europe and the United States. Called Meerkat Manor, the documentary covered 10 years in the life of the clans, representing a serious investment of time and resources on the part of the researchers. The documentary provided interesting insights into the social life of meerkats. For example, the animals actively teach their young, which is a very unique behavior seen in few animal species.

Meerkats also cooperate in other ways. At any given time, a single individual will act as a sentry, looking out for potential threats to the gang. Many members of the clan will help to nurse and raise young, and they will defend young in the presence of danger. Meerkats have also been known to form relationships with other animal species, often to mutual benefit.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All Things Nature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon134620 — On Dec 15, 2010

i love meerkats from anywhere. They are just so cute in every way. I love them.

By donetsk — On May 15, 2008

i love meerkats! i have to say that they are my favorite animal to visit at the zoo. i even got into meerkat manor for a couple of seasons. they are really animated and enjoyable to watch--my kids absolutely love them. what is their current status --is the species safe, or is it threatened in any way?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.