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A look inside the life of a Meerkat 

To celebrate the release of Meerkats: The Movie and Meerkats Manor, which are both released by Momentum Pictures on 2nd November on DVD, we have decided to teach you a bit more about the wonderful little things.  

These gregarious animals are often seen in groups, and several families may live together in a large community. Squirrel-sized meerkats are mongooses famed for their upright posture. They often stand on their rear legs and gaze alertly over the southern African plains where they live. Mothers can even nurse their young while standing. 

It inhabits all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and South Africa. A group of meerkats is called a "mob", "gang" or "clan". A meerkat clan often contains about 20 meerkats at a time, but some superfamilies have had 50 or more. Meerkats have an average life span of 12–14 years. 

Meerkats (also called suricates) work together in numbers. A few will typically serve as lookouts, watching the skies for birds of prey, such as hawks and eagles that can snatch them from the ground. A sharp, shrill call is the signal for all to take cover. While a few individuals guard the group, the rest busy themselves foraging for the foods that make up their varied diet.  

Meerkats will eat insects, lizards, birds, and fruit. When hunting small game, they work together and communicate with purring sounds. Meerkats are good hunters and are sometimes tamed for use as rodent-catchers. Meerkats are primarily insectivores, but also eat lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, plants, eggs, small mammals, millipedes, centipedes and, more rarely, small birds. They are partially immune to certain venoms; they are immune to the very strong venom of the scorpions of the Kalahari Desert, unlike humans.  

Meerkat groups utilize several different burrows and move from one to another. Each burrow is an extensive tunnel-and-room system that remains cool even under the broiling African sun. Females give birth to two to four young each year in one of the group's burrows. Fathers and siblings help to raise meerkat young, teaching them to play and forage and alerting them to the ever-present danger from above. Young meerkats are so fearful of predatory birds that even airplanes will send them diving for cover. 

A meerkat group may die out because of predator attack, its alpha pair being unable to breed, starvation in a year when the rains fail, or epidemic disease. 

A new meerkat group often arises from evicted females meeting and staying with roving males, looking for chances to mate. The litter size is usually 2–5 pups. 

Meerkats: The Movie and Meerkats Manor, are both released by Momentum Pictures on 2nd November on DVD

 

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