Suricates - Animaux extraordinaires du ZooParc


Suricata suricatta

IUCN status
Least concern
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Suricate - Animaux extraordinaires du ZooParc

« It will observe the surrounding area for even the slightest sign of danger »

The sentry of the desert

A lookout barks to warn other meerkats of danger

The meerkat is a small diurnal mammal that lives in arid and desert environments in southwestern Africa. It is part of the Herpestidae family, together with mongooses. Often called “the sentry of the desert”, the meerkat gets this name due to the posture it assumes when standing on its two hind legs. Whilst in this position, it will observe the surrounding area for even the slightest sign of danger. One individual in particular is associated with this task: the lookout! From an elevated position, the lookout scans the surrounding area for birds of prey and other predators, and if a threat is spotted it will warn other meerkats with barks or cries.

Suricate - Animaux extraordinaires du ZooParc

The Beauval Nature association

The meerkat’s conservation status is deemed to be as least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
Furthermore, its population is relatively stable.

For the past 10 years, the Beauval Nature association has joined forces with field workers to support them in their primary mission of species conservation. Beauval works closely with numerous conservation and research programmes around the world to study and protect endangered species. This everyday action takes place in order to protect our biodiversity.

Suricate - Animaux extraordinaires du ZooParc

A relatively common species

In Beauval (at The Land of the Lions or next to The African Savannah), if the temperature is too high or when it’s raining, all the members of the group remain in the burrow or in their shelter visible through the windows. At the end of the day, the whole colony benefits from sunbathing for the last time before returning to its burrow for the night.

Suricates - Animaux extraordinaires du ZooParc
Suricates - Animaux extraordinaires du ZooParc
Suricates - Animaux extraordinaires du ZooParc
Suricates - Animaux extraordinaires du ZooParc
Beauval Nature

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Least concern

Learn more about the species

  • Diet
  • Gestation period
    2½ months
  • Litter size
    2 to 5 young
  • Habitat
    Savannahs, Arid environments

Conscription for all!

The meerkat is a very sociable animal that lives in packs, made up of several family groups. Within each pack, only the dominant pair reproduces. The other members are assigned to various essential tasks: searching for food, caring for the young, and protecting the group from predators and rival clans. The dominant couple uses “babysitters” to take care of their young and can have up to 3 litters, each consisting of 3 young, per year.

A fool proof defence

In addition to the lookout in its elevated position, meerkats have a veritable arsenal of defences against their deadly predators. They will not hesitate to fend off their enemies by raising their hackles, baring their teeth, raising their tails, and making puffing noises in order to appear more impressive. If, however, a meerkat is caught off guard by a terrestrial predator, such as a jackal, it will lie down on its back and bare its teeth and claws and try to protect its neck. If the threat comes from the sky (eagles and hawks are their main predators), meerkats will throw themselves onto the young, covering them with their body and thus protecting them.

A few arachnids for dessert?

A carnivore with insectivore tendencies, the meerkat feeds mainly on insects but will not say no to a few spiders as a second-best option. The meerkat also eats invertebrates such as centipedes and millipedes, as well as vertebrates such as reptiles and birds.

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Other species in the territory

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