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Meerkats eyes have black patches around them, which help deflect the sun's glare and small black crescent-shaped ears that can close when digging to keep sand out. They have excellent binocular vision with a large peripheral range from their eyes on the front of their faces. Their "fingers" have a non-retractable, long, curved claw used for digging underground burrows and digging for prey. Their coat is usually fawn-coloured with gray, tan, or brown and silver. They have short parallel stripes across their backs. The patterns of stripes are unique to each meerkat. They eat insectivores, but also eat lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, plants, eggs, small mammals, millipedes, centipedes and, more rarely, small birds. They are immune or partially immune to certain venoms, helping them hunt. They have no excess body fat stores, so need to eat every day. The Meerkat has a slender body and limbs and is between 42 to 65 cm including its tail. Its tail is not bushy like all other mongoose species, but is rather long and thin. Meerkats forage in a group with one "sentry" on guard watching for predators. Sentry duty is usually approximately an hour long. pup's tutor. The meerkat standing guard makes peeping sounds when all is well. If the meerkat spots danger, it barks loudly or whistles.

Picture taken at Whipsnade Zoo July 2008.

8th Aug 2008 by Diane Earl


Key Stages:
Foundation, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 4+

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