This cute little creature is a member of the mongoose family.
The mob, gang or clan live as a group in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and in South Africa.
Each clan can consist of up to 50 or more cute animals, highly social and extremely territorial.
The sight of this cute animal sitting in an upright and alert position is a popular pose that makes for great meerkat pictures.
Melbourne Zoo Meerkat
They are are burrowing animals, digging a network of tunnels throughout a typical sandy meerkat habitat.
Royal Melbourne Zoo Meerkat
Facts About Meerkats
Their eyes are at the front of their faces giving them great depth perception and wide peripheral vision. This allows them to see things way off in the distance.
When they are digging their little ears can close over to stop soil and sand getting in
Meerkats can be identified by the stripes that run across their back, no two patterns are the same, something akin to human's fingerprints.
They have a black patch on their underside that has no hair. This is used to attract the suns rays and warm their bodies. In the Meerkat habitat the desert nights are extremely cold and the morning sun is a welcome sight.
They eat mainly insects which they dig for with their claws. They can also eat lizards, snakes, scorpions, certain plants, eggs and other small mammals.
As they don't store body fat and are highly active they require a constant food source and therefore need to forage continuously.As the group forages they deploy a sentry to keep a watchful eye open for predators. Should danger appear the sentry barks an alarm warning the clan
At around 1 year of age the female is able to reproduce and will usually have up to 5 pups in a litter.The mature meerkats can have up to 4 litters per year with most births taking place in the warmer months.Gestation usually last for around 11 weeks.
Taking It Easy At The Melbourne Zoo
The Baby Meerkats move from the burrow up onto open ground around 21 days of age and hang around the burrow with the appointed babysitter. It is documented that a female meerkat that has not had a litter can actually lactate to help feed the alpha pairs young.Once accustomed to the outside world, around 1 week later, they then join the foraging grown ups.
The dominant alpha pair have the habit of killing off any pups that are not its own.Most animals in the group are siblings or offspring of the alpha pair.They can also evict the females from the group who then in turn will find a roving mate outside of the group and thus produce another Clan.
The act of grooming each other is used to strengthen social bonds
The critters bite and also because of their habit of scent-marking their territory they do not make good pets.
The fact is that they are a pack animal and when separated from their clan they can become quite distressed and hysterical
Where Are They At The Zoo?
The Melbourne Zoo Meerkat Manor is a great place for an encounter with these fascinating creatures. You can observe their habitat, take some great photos and pick up some excellent information.
The Melbourne Zoo is open between the hours of 9:00am through to 5:00pm every day of the year. Allow a good 3 hours to visit the exhibits and really experience what the zoo has to offer.
For An Intimate Close Up Encounter
Price per person- $30 (over and above the admission cost to the Zoo)
Max group size- 4 people
Restrictions-Minimum age- 5 years of age.
Children aged 5 to 12 must be accompanied by a paying adult
Available- 11:30 am
Make sure that you Book Early.
Bookings can be made by contacting Zoo Photos on 03 9285 9458 or Wild Encounters booth 9285 9342
Bookings can also be made on the day by visiting Zoo Photos or Wild Encounters booth from 9am.
The Meercats Book Shoppe
Here is a selection of Books from Fishpond on the subject of the little animals.
If you would like to see more of the Melbourne, Australia Meerkat you can do so at the Werribee Zoo just outside of Melbourne.
See Melbourne and beyond with a See Melbourne Card - this card is ideal for first time visitors to the city, with entry included to over 35 attractions.
Or The Five in One Attraction Pass - you can visit five of Melbourne's top attractions within a 3 month period. There are 20 attractions to choose from including the Melbourne Aquarium, Eureka Skydeck and the Royal Melbourne Zoo.
It's the smart travel companion for every visitor to Melbourne. Save yourself quite a bit of money with free entries, special deals and discounted rides.
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