08/07/11Meerkats are fascinating social little mammals that have been the subject of several wildlife television programmes, and a Brirish TV advertisement features an animated version of them.
Related to the mongoose meerkats live in Botswana, the Kalahari Desert, and South Africa. A "mob" or "gang" of the creatures may consist of 25 individuals, and typically one or more meerkats will find an elevated position and sit on their hind legs, whist using their tale as extra support, to stand on guard whilst looking out for predators such as falcons and eagles. When alarmed they emit a barking sound to alert the others in the group of imminent danger. Meerkats have exceedingly good distance vision but their near-sight is not so good. They live on average for about 13-years and have a varied diet of small invertebrates, insects, and young ground nesting birds, together with bulbs and shoots of certain plants. A group of meerkats will work as a team to attack a scorpion or snake, and seem to be immune from the poisonous venom produced by them.