Meerkats are predators that live on the open grasslands of southern Africa. They hunt for insects and worms among other things, but also for scorpions. Their nails work like a mechanical digger and they can use them to dig tunnel systems that are sometimes up to thirty metres long. Meerkats also use their nails for grooming themselves. They comb their coat clean with their nails and even use them as a toothpick! Sometimes these animals live together with other animals such as ground squirrels. Then they can benefit from each others digging work.

Tunnels and Rooms

There are different rooms in the tunnels, such as a 'bedroom', a room where the young are brought up and 'toilet areas' where they do their business. The tunnels are wider in some places so that the meerkats can turn around. The holes provide the meerkats with shelter against the cold nights and enemy. There are always a couple of meerkats on watch. They stand on their back legs, supported by their tails. When these guards sound the alarm, all of the meerkats run into their holes.


Suricata suricatta

  • Habitat: Lives in southern Africa
  • Food: Insects, mammals, eggs and vegetables
  • Age: Lives to 13 years old
  • Weight: Weighs 600 g to 1 kg
  • Young: Has between 2 and 5 pups, after a gestation period of 11 weeks
  • Where can I see them?: On the walking safari

Nice to know:

Shift Work Eating and keeping watch is difficult. That is why, at meal times there is always one guard keeping a good eye out to see if danger is lurking. Of course, the guards change regularly so that they can eat too.