Meerkats are among the most social of all mammals. They form groups comprised of mulitple families containing up to 30 individuals. These groups are known as a “mob”, “gang” or “clan”. Meerkats are a member of the mongoose family. They have long claws and dig elaborate underground burrows. They are diurnal (active during the day), however activity largely depends on soil temperature. In the wild they emerge after the sun has heated the surface of their burrow. Meerkats are widely known for their sentinel behaviour. While the group forages for food, there is always one sentry or guard keeping watch for predators including jackals, hawks and eagles. The sentinel gives a distinctive bark to sound an alarm. The mob flees to their burrows for protection. Sentinel rotation occurs throughout the day among members of the group.
Females can breed at 2 years old. Meerkats are iteroparous and can reproduce throughout the year. Births occur most often during rainy season and warmer periods when conditions are favourable. Breeding may stop during droughts. Females give birth to on average 3 pups per litter. Each mob has a dominant alpha male and female. Non-breeding members of the mob act as babysitters helping nursing females.
Habitat loss and wildlife pet trade.