Specific epithet: Suricata suricatta
The meerkat, Suricata suricatta, is a miniature mammal belonging to the mongoose family. They belong to the order Carnivora, and they are classified in their own family the Herpestidae. They were formerly included within the Viverridae, a very old carnivore family that includes civets and genets. (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2013) Mongooses have long bodies, four short legs, and long tails. Many kinds of mongooses live alone while others live in small groups. Meerkats live together in large group of numbers. A group of meerkats are usually called a “gang” and can have up to 30 members. (Storad, 2007) Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert located in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Angola. (Burton & Burton, 2002) They are principally found on dry, sandy plains where there is little vegetation other than low grass. They are also found in some rocky areas. Meerkats are territorial and the range of their land depends on the size of their pack. They generally live in colonies, in burrows that they dig for themselves. They are energetic diggers and the burrows, which are close together, have numerous entrances leading to passages up to 1 foot (30cm) wide and going down as deep as 6 ½ feet (2 m) underground. (Burton & Burton, 2002) The burrows are an elaborate underground quarters with multiple tunnels that connects to dens and other entry holes. Dens are used for protection, sleeping and breeding. According to the International Wildlife Encyclopedia, meerkats construct a sub-system of entrances and tunnels made around the territory and used as safe houses or escapes when danger arises. Although they are territorial, the meerkats will sometimes live with the ground squirrel, Geosciurus inauris, and the yellow mongoose, Cynictis...
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