Pittsburgh Zoo Meerkat

Meerkat [Suricata suricatta]

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Quick Facts

  • Size: Adult meerkats weigh about 2 pounds and range between 10 and 14 inches tall.
  • Lifespan: In the wild meerkats live up to 10 years, but in human care they can live to be 15 years old.
  • Color: Meerkats have a grizzled grayish-tan coat that is patterned with black bands on the rear portion of the back. Black bands also rim the eyes.
  • Range: South Africa
  • Habitat: Meerkats live in the Kalahari desert which is in the southern part of Africa. Meerkats are social animals that live in colonies of up to 30 animals.

Meerkats live in communities and depend on one another for survival. They dig complex tunnels called burrows.

 Meerkats have dark brown or black bands around their eyes which allow them to avoid a glare from the sun.

In the wild, a meerkat's diet consists of worms, crickets, grasshoppers, small rodents, lizards, small snakes, birds, eggs, fruit and scorpions. In captivity, meerkats are fed mice, worms and other insects. A meerkat looses 5% of its body weight over night.

Mating usually takes place between the alpha male and alpha female. Meerkats can reproduce when they are 10 months or older. They are able to breed every two months, but breeding typically depends on food availability. Litter size is usually two to five pups after a gestation period of 77 days.

  • Location in the Zoo: Worlds of Discovery