Meerkats live across the savannahs of Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Botswana and are officially known as Suricata suricatta. Weighing around 600-975g they are on average 25-35cm long with a tail measuring 17-25cm long. The word meerkat comes from the South African Dutch word for 'lake cat' as most meerkats can be found around lakes and other sources of water. They live for between 12-14yrs and live in groups of around fifty. They feed on insects as well as small mammals, centipedes and other food stuffs such as eggs, snakes, spiders, lizards and even scorpions, not least because they are immune to scorpion venom.
Meerkats live underground in colonies and spend much of their time on sentry duty, spending periods of about sixty minutes keeping a watchful eye on their fellow meerkats whilst they search for food. (Meerkats have no excess body fat so need to feed everyday day.) After sixty minutes they will swap sentry duty with another whilst they search for their own food. At any hint of danger they let out a small bark and its off to safety.
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