Meerkat species

The species that I chose for this paper is the meerkat species. Its scientific name is Suricata suricatta.  The Meerkats are a type of mongoose. Its name comes from the Afrikaans that is the Dutch population in South Africa. Adult meerkats will have a standing height of twelve inches while it weighs 2lbs. their legs are short and their bodies are long and thin. Their tails are also long and thin with a dark end. They use the dark end to identify each other during the hunting of food. The meerkats have markings on their back and not any of them have similar marks to the other. The smaller size meerkats are known for their upright posture. They stand with their rear legs and gaze alertly in their surroundings.

These animals are often seen together in groups. This means that several families could actually be living together in a large community. They all work together in their large numbers. Some will serve as looks outs, watching out for birds of prey, such as the hawks and eagles. These birds snatch them from the ground. If they sense danger, they alert the rest to take cover by giving a sharp, shrill call.  Another part of the group is responsible for looking for food for the group. They are responsible for looking for food that makes up their diet.  Among the things they feed on include insects, lizards and small snakes. The meerkats live in underground burrows that consists entrance holes, tunnels and also sleeping chambers.

The native land of the Meerkats is the southern part of African that is dominated by the Kalahari Desert. The Kalahari spreads over in countries like South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe and Botswana (www.meerkats.net). The desert has little rainfall and has an arid climate with open plains. The area is covered by porous soft sand, which the place look like a bright orange color.   Meerkats prefer to hunt in the soft sand so that it can conserve its energy for more harsh times. Meerkats adapt well to captive settings and have become a popular zoo exhibit animal. There are several reasons as why the meerkats do survive in such harsh conditions. First it can be said that they are the weaker part of the mongoose species and they therefore might find it hard to fight for food with the rest of the pack.

The meerkats are currently not endangered and its risk of becoming endangered is minimal. This animals should however not be disregarded because they play an important role when it comes to ecological harmony in their habitats. They are a part of the food chain because they provide food for their predators like the jackals and hawks while they curb pest infestation be eating the insects. Meerkats are sometimes tamed and used as rodent-catchers. These animals do not however make goods because they are believed to be hostile towards the visitors. They get accustomed to their territory and the owner and if there are any visitors, they can become violent towards them. They are also known to carry the rabies virus, which can infect human beings.

An important part of their natural history is that they have evolved over the years in order to suit their harsh environment. Their bodies have evolved in a way, which has made it easier for them to run away from the predators and hunt easily. Their hinds are made in such a way that they are able to run fast and hide from predators. Their body size and shape also enables them to hibernate easily from the predators. Their strong claws enables them to dig burrows in which they live in. they have simply adopted to the harsh conditions of the desert where they live in.

The observations that can be made about this animal are as follows.  The first observation of the group is its social nature. The meerkats are known to very social animals. They are known to share their burrows with other mongooses, and other small rodents.  The second observation that is made is that the meerkats are very organized. As discussed above there are sentinels whose job is usually to look out for the pack while the rest are out there looking for food. There are others who also perform the job of babysitters and others teach the young ones on how to hunt for food. It is amazing how very well organized these group of animal is and how they are able to survive in the group.

The next observation that can be made is on their ability to use their body features to protect themselves. The sentinels stand by their hind legs and use their tail to support themselves when they are guarding the rest while they are foraging for food. They also have a special way of communication in which they communication by either barking or whistling. By doing so, they are able to communicate to the rest of the park they type of prey that they are up against and how fast their response should be.

Another observation that can be made is that a group is usually le by a female and male pair known as the alpha pair. The alpha pair bears pups after a period of 11 weeks and the rest of the group is responsible for taking care of them. It is up to the group to take care of the young meerkats because they are believed to important in the group. They will go to the extent of risking their lives in order to protect that of a pup.

Another point to note is about their diet which consists of insects and other small animals. They is a part of the group that goes hunting while the rest of the group is left behind to either keep guard or babysit the pups. They have an excellent sense of smell that enables them to sniff out potential prey or food, which could be hiding. They are known to lose about 5 percent of their body weight and it is therefore important for them to get that weight back. They therefore spend a lot of day foraging for food for survival.

The meerkats native land is the Kalahari Desert and they are well adapted to live there. They are known to be social that walks in groups that consists of more than one family.

References

www.meerkats.net/info.htm#Who_eats_Meeekats

Animal Facts Guide www.animalfactguide.com/animal-facts/meerkat/

Hloly G, Jake H., Darienne c. & James W. Evolution of the meerkat n.d

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