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Meerkat

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Genus
Suricata
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Herpestidae(Mongoose family)
Species
Suricata suricatta
Average lifespan
12-14 years
Population
500,000
A Meerkat (Suricata suricatta) is a small mammal found in the mongoose family, they are also refered to as Suricates or Slender-tailed Meerkats. Meerkats inhabit the deserts and scrub-lands of the sourthern African region, including Botswana, Angola, Namibia, South Africa and southern Zimbabwe. They are most numorous throughout the Kalahari Desert. Meerkats are small animals and therefore, like all small species, they have a high predation rate. That is why they have adapted very well to life in the desert areas through team work. A meerkat's life depends about 80% on team work. Because of this, meerkat's social structures are among the
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most sophisticated in all of the animal kingdom. The basic building block of the social structure is the family group called a mob, gang or clan. Meerkats live in families not only to share sentry duty to give an early warning system for predators, but also to support each other and maintain the well being of all individuals within the mob. Very few animal species have the same cohesive society as meerkats.

EtymologyEdit

The genus, Suricata, was first classifed in 1776 by the German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber. The species name, Suricatta, was not added until 1905. There is plentiful confusion over the origin of the meerkat's name. The name 'meerkat' is Afrikaans for 'mongoose'. Though unconfirmed, it's a possibility that 'meerkat' derived from the Afrikaan phrase 'meer kat as hund', meaning 'more cat than dog'. Another belief is that the name was given by misidentification on the behalf of early Dutch settlers. In Dutch the name 'meerkat' refers to the 'guenon', a species of monkey, and that the name was simply given to the wrong animal. Also, in Dutch 'kat' means cat and 'meer' means lake, and so 'meerkat' also refers to 'lake cat'. As the species are not cats nor do they occur near lakes, the word 'meerkat' is further underlined as being adapted to a misidentified animal. Another theory is that a potential Indian sailor on board a
File:Meekrat Diagram 1893.jpg
Dutch East India Company ship named the meerkat after the Sanskrit word for monkey, 'markata'. The origin of the meerkat's other name, 'suricate', is a little more straight-forward; 'suricate' means 'stockstaartje' or 'stokstermeerkat' which is Dutch for 'little sticktails'. The date of when the common-names were added to Suricata Suricatta is unknown. Today, the animal is most commonly refered to as meerkat, but in some countries go by their other name, suricate, 'Erdmännchen' in German (meaning 'little earth men') and 'hycryky' for the Nama people of Namaqualand in Africa.

MythologyEdit

It is a popular belief in the Zimbabwe and Zambian regions of Africa that the meerkat is a 'sun angel'. It is said that the 'sun angels' are sent by the gods to protect villages, straying cattle, and lone tribesmen from the 'moon devil' or werewolf. The name 'sun angel' was likely applied to the meerkat due to their "glowing" appearence in the morning sunlight during their routinely sun-basks.

AnatomyEdit

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A meerkat is a small diurnal herpestid(mongoose). Males weigh an average of 731 grams(1.61 pounds) and females weigh 720 grams(1.58 pounds). It has a long slender body and limbs give it a body length of 25 to 35 cm(10 - 14 inches) and with a tail length of 17 - 25 cm(7 - 10 inches). Its tail is not bushy like other mongoose species but is rather long, thin and with tappers to a black tipped colored tail. Meerkats use their tails for balance when standing upright. Its face tappers coming to a point at the nose which is brown. Their snouts point out to a length of 5-8 centimeter(2-3 inches) and are whiskered. In fact, no two meerkats have the same whiskers pattern. Their eyes have
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black patches around them which helps to deflect the glare of the sun. They have binocular vision, a large peripheral range and depth precipitation. Meerkats have small black crescent-shaped ears that can close when digging to keep sand out. At the end of each of a meerkat's fingers are non-rectractable claws used for digging holes for prey and in combat and self-defense. Claws are used at the muscular hind-legs to help climb the occasional tree. They have four toes on each foot and long, slender limbs. Meerkats have a total of 36 teeth, which is 2-4 less than the rest of the mongoose species. Their coat is fawn in color with short parallel stripes across their backs, extending from the base of the tail to the shoulders. Like with their whiskers, every meerkat has its own unique stripe pattern. The underside of the body has no markings but the belly has a patch of which is only sparsley with hair and shows black skin underneath. Meerkats use this area of their body to absorb the sun's heat when standing on their rear legs, usually early in the mornings after cold desert nights.

Diet and Foraging BehaviorEdit

Meerkats are primarily insectivores preying on on a variety of insects. Their diet consists of:

File:Meerkat eating a millipede.jpg
  • Lizards
  • Scorpions
  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Plants
  • Eggs
  • Millepedes
  • Centipedes
  • Burrowing skinks
  • Small birds
  • Rodents
  • Ants
  • Larvae
  • Beetles (of all varieties)

Meerkats have also been seen eating more unusual prey such as turtles and baby ground squirrels. They are immune the strong venom of scorpions, but only have some resistant to snake venom. Unlike humans, they have no excess body fat stores and therefore foraging for food is a daily activity. Meerkats forage in a mob with one individual on sentry duty, keeping watch for predators while the rest of the group hunts for food. Sentry duty is approximately 1 hour long and is usually done by males. The individual on sentry duty gives a peeping sound called the Watchman's Song, it reassures the other meerkats that there is someone on lookout. Pups do not start to independently forage for their own food until about 1 month old and do so by watching an older member in the group who acts as a Pup tutor.

PredatorsEdit

Meerkats have many predators which is why they live in mobs, for security purposes. Birds of prey are the biggest threat and cause the meerkats to dive into one of over a thousand "bolt holes" in their territory. Terrestrial predators such as jackals, snakes and foxes are often confronted. Snakes in particular are always attacked by meerkat gangs to prevent a far more dangerous encounter below ground. Some of the meerkat's natural predators include:

File:Martial eale(meerkat main predator).jpg
  • Martial eagles (their most-feared enemy)
  • Goshawks
  • Black-backed jackals
  • Genet cats (only to meerkat pups)
  • Giant eagle owls
  • Cape Cobras
  • Puff Adders
  • Mole Snakes
  • Cape Foxes (only to meerkat pups)
  • Bateleur Eagles
  • Black-breasted Snake Eagles
  • Desert Lions (very rarely, but has been observed)

Social StructureEdit

File:Babysitters and pups.jpg
Meerkats are co-operative breeding animals and have a complex social system. They live in Mobs of 5-50 individuals consisting of a Dominant pair and their offspring which remain in their natal group until adulthood. When the leaders' offspring reach maturity, they take their place as subordinates and assist in raising younger litters. Breeding couples remain together for years, even for life. The dominants monopolise breeding rights viciously and will attack and banish lower-ranking meerkats (their matured offspring) to prevent their status from being challenged. The survival of pups largely depends on the seasons, the abundance of food, and the availability of helpers to help rear their pups.

MobEdit

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Meerkats live a life which is 80% based on team work. By living in a mob they not only provide each other with an early warning system in case of predators, but also other life structures depend on group living. Meerkats live in mobs which can vary in terms of size depending on food availability and resources within their territory. A single mob can have 5-50 members. Normally males who are in their 1st or 2nd year of life contribute to sentry duty more often but females can also frequently contribute, in fact, all members except the dominant female will usually contribute at sentry duty at regular occasions. living in a mob also helps with co-operative breeding by providing the alpha pair with helpers to rear pups. As the pups grow they will need to learn how to forage and living in a mob provides the pups with suitable tutors who will not only guard them but also teach them how to hunt for different prey items. The size of a mob affects the size of a territory range. There are more than one mobs living near each other as a result of overlapping territory ranges. Mobs do often encounter violent clashes with each other and the size of the mob affects their defense against intruders and chances of driving away rival mobs. Large mobs have a higher success rate in holding on to large territories and driving off intruders than small mobs. Within a mob there is a social structure governed by the alpha pair(the dominant female and male). The dominant meerkats assert their position by chin swiping, anal marking,hip slamming and violent attacks on subordinates, this prevents any chances of insubordination among the subordinate meerkats. Once female subordinates reach 3 years old they are usually already evicted by the dominant female(commonly her mother,sister,aunt etc), and this removes the chances when the subordinate might challenge the dominant female for her position. Males leave their natal(birth) mob voluntarily after 1 year old and go on what we call Roving expeditions to other mobs in search of any mating opportunities. Sometimes subordinate males are chased out of the group by the dominant male(commonly his father,brother,uncle etc) who has a sole purpose of holding on to his position.

Splinter Groups and SubgroupsEdit

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When a mob gets too large they tend to commonly split. Instances of group splits occur when during foraging trips when some members move further away in the search for food and split from the main mob and only realize that they have splintered from the main family later on. Normally the splinter groups can reunite with the main mob at the sleeping burrow or at further foraging exertions. Sometimes the two sub groups see each other and begin to war dance after intrepreating each other as rival mobs intruding on their territory, but without too much blood shed they catch the scent of each other. Since meerkats identify each other more by scent rather than sight they will recognize the common scent among them and reunite as one family again. Sometimes the two or even 3 splinter mobs do not reunite and become sub mobs of the main family mob and after a short while establish themselves as new mobs headed by a new alpha pair and inhabit a new territory range.

Foundation of New MobsEdit

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New mobs are formed commonly as a result of evicted female meerkats with males from other groups. Some mobs are started by a mix-gender splinter group from the main mob who establish a new territory range but most instances of new mob being founded occur when subordinate female meerkats get evicted from their birth mobs. Unlike males, female meerkats stay within their birth mobs for life and do not voluntarily leave it unless they are evicted by the dominant female. Dominant females commonly evict subordinates commonly their daughters, nieces or sisters to prevent any challenge for the dominant position. If evicted females do not manage to rejoin their family then they disperse and with luck, are joined by unrelated males either wild or from other mobs and form a new mob and family.

Dominant PairEdit

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Within a mob there is an alpha pair consisting of two dominant individuals, refereed to as the dominant female and the dominant male. They are the breeding pair in the mob. The dominant female is the leader of the mob with the dominant male at her side and breeding partner. The alpha animals are noticeably the largest and most powerfully sized members in the mob. The dominant male is the resident breeding male in the mob who controls access to the dominant female, contributes to sentry duty occasionally and contributes to the defense of the mob and their territory. The dominant female is the Queen of the group who is the resident breeding female as well as the leader of the group, because according to the KMP a mob cannot be established until there is a dominant female. She is the matriarch of her family and monopolies breeding in the mob by producing pups and so as to maintain the size of the mob and also controls the breeding success of the subordinate females commonly her daughters. The dominant female and dominant male will assert their position by hip slamming, anal marking, chin swiping and sometimes launching vicious attacks on subordinates. The dominant female will mostly dominate the subordinate females in case of any insubordination among the subordinate females and the dominant male will concentrate on the subordinate males in case of any subordination among the subordinate males. Both genders will drive out subordinates to maintain control of their alpha positions and ensure that their pups survive and that system of pup survival is involved around the capability of control by the dominant female. Dominant females will commonly kill any pups born to subordinates and in doing so not only entire that her pups survive but also by killing the subordinate pups, the subordinate mother will still be able to lactate and act as wet nurse for the dominant females' pups. Both dominant genders will hold on to their position depending on their capability to control but normally the Dominant female will hold on to her position longer than the dominant male since meerkats live in a matriarchal society. When the dominant female comes into oeustrus, the dominant male will stay close to her in what is called Mate guarding to prevent her from mating with other males and therefore ensures that he fathers her pups.

Dominant femaleEdit

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The dominant female is a female meerkat with a dominant status and main breeding female in the mob. The Dominant female is commonly the largest female in the mob. She is usually the leader of the mob and commonly mother to most of its members. Dominant females have a superior position in the mob above all individuals including the dominant male. As the main leader of the mob she controls the mob regarding the movement of the mob and which foraging places they take each day. She is the only female in the group to successfully breed and maintains this rule in the most vigorous and violent way than any other animal species. The dominant female attacks the subordinate females and this not only helps her hold on to her top position but also controls the breeding success of the subordinate females in the mob. Its a fact that meerkats live in a Matriarchal society where the dominant female has full control and power of the group. She is even sometimes dominant to the dominant male and this is because the male needs acceptance from the dominant female to be her breeding partner, and for this reason dominant males are commonly seen grooming the dominant female. The dominant female's pups the ones mostly likely to survive with the help of her daughters. The dominant female will evict subordinates to maintain control of her position and safe guard the survival of her pups. Once a dominant female dies she is usually replaced by her daughter or sometimes she is overthrown and one of the subordinates takes over. If she is overthrown then she will most probably be evicted by the new dominant female.

Dominant maleEdit

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The dominant male is a male meerkat who has a dominant status and superior position over all subordinate males in the mob. He is the breeding partner of the dominant female and she often has higher control over him. The dominant male is commonly the largest male in the mob who contributes to the defense of the mob and territory range. He keeps roving males out of the group and mate guards the dominant female from time to time especially during her oeustrus period. He sets dominant displays over the subordinate males in the mob and sometimes drives them out, though male evictions are rare among meerkats. If the dominant female dies then the dominant male will either stay in the mob for only a short while or leave it because he cannot breed with his daughter who claimed dominance after the first dominant female. If roving males immigrate into the mob then they do commonly chase out the resident dominant male or if the dominant male dies then subordinate male takes over though he will not able to breed with the dominant female if she is related to him.

ReproductionEdit

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Meerkats reach sexual maturity at 1 year old and can have litters from 1-7 pups, with 4 being the most common size. Meerkats can produce 4 litters in 1 year, depending on the availability of food. A female may have as many as 70 pups in her lifetime. Meerkats are iteroparaus and can reproduce any time throughout the year though pup season occurs during the rainy season when food is most abundant. Pregnancy is identifiable after approximately 4 weeks following copulation. After a gestation period of 70 days, meerkats give birth underground in a burrow and pups only emerge from the burrow at around 3 weeks old. Newborn pups are commonly killed by other pregnant female meerkats who kill each others' litters to ensure survival of their own unborn pups. Its normally the dominant female's pups that survive. Pup's ears open after 15 days and their eyes open at 10 to 14 days. They are weaned at 43 to 63 days. Once they surface above ground at around 3 weeks old they are cared for by the babysitters until they are old enough to go foraging with the mob at around 4-5 weeks old. While at the burrow they are suckled by the subordinate females through a process called Aloe-lactation which the subordinate females are able to produce milk for the dominant females' pups. Pups reach adulthood at 1 year old and can begin to reproduce though this is restricted as long as they stay in the mob ruled by their parents who are usually the dominant female and male.


PupsEdit

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A pup is a young meerkat under 6 months old. They are born in litters
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ranging from 1-7 pups. They remain underground in the burrow until the age of 2-3 weeks old. Pups are babysat by helpers at the burrow until they are old enough at around 4-5 weeks old to go foraging with the adults. Pups born in the mob are mothered by the dominant female and fathered by the dominant male, though occasionally subordinates also breed and pups from as many as 5 different mothers are reared together in mixed litters of up to 13 pups. Once they reach around 4 weeks old they go on foraging trips with the whole group for the very first time and are fed by foraging members by calling out frequently in what is called Pup beging calls which encourage the foraging adults to deliver food to them. As the pups grow up and get older the adults teach them how to handle live prey like dangerous scorpion(by teaching the pups that they should first bite of the poisonous sting) and showing them how to find different prey items. Once the pups are older their begging calls become less effective and the adults ignore their calls and in doing so teach the young meerkats that they have to learn how to catch prey for themselves in order to survive. Pups learn everything from their helpers, they learn how to forage by watching the adults and while still at the burrow they watch the reactions of the babysitters to certain threats.


PlayfightingEdit

Young meerkats start to play fight from as early as 3 weeks old. Like all young animals, meerkats play-fight in order to strengthen muscles, practice fighting skills needed for later on in life and build strong b
File:Juvenile meerkats playfighting.jpg
onds with each other. By play fighting young meerkats learn how to relate to one another and their surroundings. Since meerkats live in mobs, the whole extended family will commonly the juvenile's rough and tumble and helps to maintain their strong family bond. As young meerkats mature their play fights will become less and focus their attention on contributing to the welfare of the mob like sentry duty and tutoring younger members in the mob. Adult meerkats also play fight and this just shows what cohesive and socially tight-knit meerkats are.

GroomingEdit

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Meerkats groom themselves in order to keep their coats free from parasites and also build and maintain strong bonds within the group. Meerkats generally groom one another after returning from a day of foraging or before mating. It is also, sometimes, a form of submission. Lower-ranking meerkats will "creep" up to dominants and groom their chest or neck in an attempt to prevent isolation from the group or a beating. A positive response often means the dominant animal will groom back.

Territorial BehaviorEdit

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Mobs defend their territory from other neighbouring mobs. Intruders can either be rival mobs, newley formed mobs looking for a territory or small bands of roving males that either temporarily or permanently leave their natal mobs looking for females from other mobs. Territory size is about 1-3 km squared (though territory range depends on the size of the mob). Meerkats maintain their territory through latrine sites, visual threat displays such as war dancing to intimidate the rival mob or if all else failes, violent battles which are vicious group encounteres in which some meerkats are either killed in the fight or others sccumb to their wounds.

Maturity and DespersalEdit

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Meerkats reach adulthood at 1 year old. Males volunteerily leave their birth mobs alone or in roving bands either emmigrating into another mob by ousting the resident dominant male or forming new mobs with evicted unrelated females. Female meerkats never permanently immigrate into other mobs but are evicted from their mobs by the dominant female in later stages of pregnancy. Older pregnant subordinate females are most likely to be the first evicted by the dominant. Dominant females evict older subordinates to safeguard the survival of their pups and maintain their position. Although most cases are the evicted females returning to the mob after the dominant female gives birth, some may permanently desperse and start new mobs with unrelated roving males. Therefore the conclusion is that; female meerkats never volunteerily leave a mob unlike males who will volunteerily leave a mob to search for mating opportunities.

Communication and SoundsEdit

Meerkats constantly communicate with each other in 3 different ways: Scent, Sound and Body language. They have about 20 - 30 different sounds that have been recorded with different meanings. These calls can be broken down to 6 different categories:

Lost calls - Used by pups who have been seperated by the group

Alarm calls - Emitted by meerkats on sentry duty to warn others of danger

Lead calls - Commonly used by the dominant meerkats in deciding the movement of the group

Begging calls - Used by pups (and sometimes sneaky juveniles) to recieve prey from adults

Guard calls ("Watchman's song") - Murmuring noises by meerkats on sentry duty to reassure other members that there is someone keeping watch for danger

Contact calls - Constant calls used by foraging meerkats to keep in contact.

When meerkats forage they are constantly communicating in what sounds like growls. It helps them to keep track of one anothers' location since they sometimes forage 15 feet(5 meters apart). When pups learn how to forage they make loud calls which can be heard up to one hundred yards away. If they become separated from the adults the volume of their calls increases so that an adult can come to get them. They are many other sounds which meerkats emit. For example, subordinates will "chatter" to dominants when they feel threatened (common for females on the verge of eviction). It has recently been discovered that each meerkat has its own distinctive "voice". Members of a group can identify each other by the way they sound, much like humans can. Meerkats are the first and possibly only non-primate to have this ability.

Meerkat Sub-speciesEdit

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So far, there have been a total of 3 separate meerkat species recognized, although it is believed a fourth may exist. Furthermore, as many as 12 seperate sub-species are believed to exist. More research is required before any confirmations on the sub-species are made.

Confirmed Sub-SpeciesEdit

Suricata Suricatta Suricatta - The most wi
File:Clan of the Meerkat Screenshot (2).png
despread of the sub-species. Suricatta is found in the southwestern range of Botswana and South Africa. In selective areas, however, other sub-species may occur (for example: Suricata Suricatta Capensis is believed to be exclusive to the Cape of Good Hope). Coat colour varies depending on their exact location. Those found in more arid regions develop lighter fur to blend in with the sand whilst those in scrubland have darker coats. Suricata Suricatta Majoriae - This sub-species have a sturdy build, in comparison to the rest of Suricata. Majoriae occupies central and northwestern areas of Namibia, where the landscape ranges from high dunes to rocky flat-lands. They are seldom seen in captivity.
File:The Meerkats - Cobra Mobbing.jpg


Suricata Suricatta Iona - This sub-species occurs in a very limited area in southwestern Angola, predominantly in the Iona National Park (hence their name). Iona are the least-known of the 3 confirmed sub-species.

Suricata Suricatta Major - the meerkat's ancestor, once found in the Cape of Good Hope. Major was incredibly similar to the meerkat's relative, the Banded Mongoose. It was larger than modern meerkat species and signficiantly different dentition. Major no longer exists due to evolution.


Possible Sub-SpeciesEdit

  • Suricata Suricatta Hahni
  • Suricata Suricatta Capensis
  • Suricata Suricatta Siricatta
  • Suricata Suricatta Hamiltoni
  • Suricata Suricatta Lophurus
  • Suricata Suricatta Namaquensis
  • Suricata Suricatta Tetradactyl
  • Suricata Suricatta Typicus
  • Suricata Suricatta Viverrina

Matriarchal SocietyEdit

[1]Two subordinate females competing for rank.Added by MuzzleladMeerkats live in matriarchal society, meaning that females have complete power over the groups, Which means that females choose their partners (eg, if a dominant male meerkat does not get acceptance by the dominant female as her partner, he will easily be deposed by any of the other males in the group because he will not be able to successfully breed within the group, as the result of the dominant female reserving all breeding rights to herself and so prevents any subordinate females from breeding).

Dominant females lead the groups out foraging, decide which direction and sleeping burrows to take. Dominant female meerkats are usually the mother of almost all the pups born in the group as she will reserve all breeding rights with exclusive access to her and will often kill any pups, born to subordinate females within the group, within their first twenty-four hours of life .

Social StructureEdit

Meerkats are actually one of the most complex of animals, with sophisticated social structure of life which enables them to live in their environment. Meerkats social structure all begins with Dominance. [2]A higher ranked male asserting dominance over a lower ranked maleAdded by MuzzleladMeerkat dominance is very complex compare to other social animals. Dominance in meerkats is not necessarily through heritage as primates, but through constant change of circumstantial change of daily life with vigilance to opportunity. This means that a meerkat cannot simply depend on birth to gain status in a group and rather it will normally come with maturity. Although sometimes dominance can be apparent from birth in meerkats especially with young pups, the pups belonging to the dominant female, become more dominant towards other pups in the group (if there are other pups in the group as any pups found in a group normally belong to the dominant female who often re-imposes this rule constantly). As meerkats of both genders mature, they will start to associate their stable way of living within a group with rank.  [3]A foot fight between the dominant female and a juvenile.Added by MuzzleladRank may change as the animal gets older and larger. Adult age in meerkats is a year old, but changes in status can occur earlier. Males at this age will instinctively start to assert their superiority to other smaller males by chin swiping, hip slamming (meerkat way of asserting their dominance) and females will start to do the same, that way on some occasions while looking at a meerkat group, one can see a meerkat chin swiping and hip slamming others and is a subordinate meerkat instead of the dominant individuals doing that role. Dominant individuals will assert their own dominance on these individuals to restore the balance of power and to make sure that they are fully aware who's the real dominant meerkat. Dominant females will evict older subordinate females (normally the oldest age for a subordinate female is three years old) before they grow big enough to overthrow them. Dominant males will attack subordinate males before they grow strong enough to overthrow them, but normally in case of male meerkats, subordinate males will leave the group without any fuss from the dominant male.

Female DominanceEdit

Females don't necessarily inherit rank, even if born to the dominant, will always fall to a subordinate role in a group which involves countless submissions to the dominant female, babysitting pups belonging to the dominant and allo-lactating for the dominant's pups. When females get older (normally over a year old) they grow aspirations within the group. They will start to challenge each other for status, whether directly like growls to vicious fights or indirectly like hip slamming and stealing each others food like millipedes and scorpions. When an individual subordinate manages to dominate all the other subordinates in the group, she will start to progress further in her power quest and challenge the dominant. This will result in vicious fights and usually the heaviest and strongest individual wins.

If the subordinate does manage to overthrow the dominant, whether it happens to be her mother or sister, she will continue to attack the deposed leader and eventually the former dominant is evicted. The new dominant female will assert her position constantly and normally has very little difficulty in gaining acceptance from the rest of the meerkats in the group including the dominant. Since meerkats live in matriarchal society where females have complete power over the group, are dominant to all other individuals and choose their partners, the dominant male (if unrelated to her) will have to gain her acceptance, if not, he will easily be deposed by the other males in the group. If the resident dominant male is related to the new dominant female, he will most likely leave the the group. Newly dominant female meerkats show increasing amount of both estrogen and testosterone. This makes them particularly aggressive and very hierarchical. She may constantly attack her subordinate females to exert her new authority. She will start to breed and reproduce pups of her own, normally her very first successful breeding attempt in meerkats.

Death of a Dominant FemaleEdit

When a dominant female meerkat dies, her daughters will start to compete for her position. All the subordinate females over a year old start to challenge each other for status. Normally the oldest female takes over dominance but this rule can change and its usually the most aggressive individual as well as heaviest and strongest wins dominance.

PregnancyEdit

[4]A pregnant dominant female will evict the oldest subordinate females from the group.Added by MuzzleladFemale meerkats may be triggered to gain the dominant position if pregnancy is involved. Meerkats breed almost year round and normally time their birthing season during the rainy season where there is an abundance of food. In meerkats society, only the dominant female may breed and she often asserts this rule constantly and vigorously by attacking subordinates. Dominant meerkats may attack subordinates not only to exert their dominance, but also by preventing them from breeding. When subordinates females are attacked by the dominant, it decreases the estrogen in them and so reduces their chances of coming into oestrus and breeding and therefore the dominant will ensure her pups get the best start in life.

If there are is only one set of pups in a group, then all the attention that the adults bring including providing food and protection, will go to them. If subordinates females to produce litters, they will also want their own pups to survive, this circumstance will drive pregnant subordinate meerkats to kill any other pups born in the group, including the dominant's pups. Dominants will also kill pups born to subordinates for the exact same reason and if two litters are born in the group, most of the attention will go to the oldest litter and so pregnant meerkats kill each others pups to ensure their own unborn pups future. Pregnancy also triggers aggression in female meerkats and so increases the demands of dominance. Even subordinates will not submit to the dominant when pregnant and which will lead to dominance fights and may result in dominants being overthrown and evicted or subordinates being evicted permanently.

Male DominanceEdit

Male dominance in meerkats may not be a power vicious and tight as female meerkats but can be just as aggression driven. Males usually originate from other mobs.

When a male meerkat enters a new group he will take the subordinate role, unless if there is no apparent  [5]The dominant male usually has scars from his dominance fights.Added by Muzzlelad dominant male then the new comer easily takes dominance. Dominance in home-born males (males born within a group) comes with age and size. As they mature the males will start to assert their dominance with increasing boldness. As they grow bigger, instinct will lead them into challenging the dominant male, whether it happens to be his father or brothers. If the dominant male is deposed, he may still be allowed to stay in the group, but may be frequently bullied by the new dominant male.

Death of a Dominant FemaleEdit

When a dominant female dies, the dominant male will lack breeding opportunities within the group as usually, most of the other females are his daughters. This predicament will force him to leave the group and rove to other groups for new mating opportunities. The resident subordinate males will fight vigorously for the dominant position and normally the strongest and aggressive (not necessarily the oldest) eventually wins dominance.

Immigration of New MalesEdit

If a group of roving males from other groups enters the group, the chances of the dominant male being deposed rise along with the number of immigrants. The new males are usually all unrelated to the females within the group and could all be potential mates and dominant males.

The dominant male may try to exert his dominance over the new comers, but usually the new males are not as submissive as the resident subordinate males and will challenge him for his position driven by the instinct to mate. In these predicaments and events, the dominant male is usually eventually deposed and one of the new dominant males takes charge of the group.

Natal Dominant MalesEdit

Usually after the dominant female dies, a long-term where most of the mob is her children, [6]A natal uncle and niece dominant pairAdded by Muzzleladthe father of the pups will leave to rove or may stay in the group to help his daughter, the new dominant female out. If the former dominant male leaves the group, then usually the oldest and strongest male will take dominance, usually the new dominant female’s brother or cousin. He cannot mate with the dominant female, being related to her and he may rove often at other groups. Roving natal males are good for the group, because in their absent, maybe an unrelated male will join the group and become the new dominant male. The natal males often rove in groups or five or more which gives them more success in joining another group. If no new unrelated male joins the group when the former natal dominant male leaves, than a new natal dominant male will take dominance till he to leaves to rove and hopefully joins another group. Once most of the oldest males leave, new males from other groups have a better chance at joining the group and taking dominance.


Very rarely do natal males over throw another natal dominant male, but in some cases, with a very aggressive male, he may over throw the already natal dominant male and take his place. Females don't take part in these male problems and are rather happy with who ever takes natal dominance of the group. Hopefully the males leave soon so she can attract a new mate. It can take up to two or three years for a new unrelated male to join the group and take dominance, or longer it the dominant male no longer roves to to old age.

Roving MeerkatsEdit

Roving is usually done by males, who have to leave their birth mob, since all the females are related to them, and find new groups to join.

Male RoversEdit

[7]A large roving group of malesAdded by MuzzleladMales start to rove around a year to two years old. The oldest males rove more than younger ones. The more a male roves the less he is likley to help take care of the pups at his birth mob. Males usually rove alone or in pairs. Only large groups have a better chance at joining a new mob. The oldest male leads the roving collation and if that group joins a new mob, he will most likely take dominance. Males usually stay in their birth mob for two to four years before they finally are about to join another group. Rarely does one singal rover join a large group. Smaller groups are easier to join becuase most of the males had already left to rove leaving only females. Not all rovers join groups however. Most roving trips only in faillar or the rover only get to mate with one female. The father of the pups also somehow, by instinct, knows not to mate with their daughters in other groups, if his pups do survive to adulthood. Females also know who their brothers are, in case one is adopted by another group or joins another group before she was born will not male with him. Instead the male will find himself rejected. Males who do join another group never rover at their former birth group but instead rove at groups nearby, even if some of the members are related to them. Mating with nieces often happens with rovers, if they are his brother’s or sister daughter who had formed or joined a new group.

Female RoversEdit

Femaleroving is very rare. Most often they were evicted from their group and had wondered to another where they may try to get a male to mate with them. Females do this in hopes of joining or even starting a new group with males from another. Females don't rove on their own but usually have to be forced to be being evicted from their group. If more then one female was evicted they may even join other groups which is even rarer. Female, like males, can only join other groups if there are very few females in the new group. They most often kick out all female over a year old. Like males, it is most likely the oldest female who will take dominance.