The Slender-Tailed Meerkat (Suricata suricatta) is a small mammal in the Herpestidae family of meerkats and mongoose. It is a herpestid.
The Slender-Tailed Meerkat has a long body and tail. Its face is long and it narrows at the chin. Its eyes have black patches around them. Its fur is grey or brown with streaks of silver. It has four toes with long claws for digging rapidly and for climbing trees.
It grows up to 50 centimetres (20 inches) long with a tail about 25 centimetres (10 inches) long.
It is native to the deserts of southern Africa.
It is diurnal, active during the day. The Slender-Tailed Meerkat digs for food, such as lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, eggs, small mammals, centipedes, and millipedes. While one looks for food, other Meerkats, called sentries, are on guard duty looking out for danger, such as eagles and jackals.
The Slender-Tailed Meerkat is a social animal and lives in groups, called colonies, of about 20 individuals. It is a matriarchal group, which means that the head of the group is female. They live in burrows with many entrances (for quick entry and exit).
The female Meerkat is iteroparous, which means that she can have babies any time of the year. She has 1-4 babies, called pups, in each litter. The pups are altricial (born blind and hairless). They open their eyes after 10-14 days, and leave the burrow after a month. They feed on their mothers’ milk for 49-63 days. Meerkats take turns to babysit the young pups.
In captivity, the Meerkat has an average life span of 12–14 years, and about 6-7 years in the wild.
Location of photographs: London Zoo, England
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM