Meet our merry meerkats!
Monarto’s meerkat mob consists of 14 mischievous meerkats across two family groups. The first group consists of five energetic brothers who were all born in Melbourne Zoo in 2012 before making their way to Monarto Safari Park the following year.
Digby, Scout, Dugless, Sandy and Mealworm are a hyperactive bunch who are always on the move, constantly digging holes, often faster than we can fill them in! They’re an outgoing and confident group and love meeting new people in the Meerkat Mingle Animal Experience.
Our other lively group of meerkats is made up of mum Eanie, dad Roho and their seven offspring. Pups Britney, Kiara, Sergai and Miles came along in January 2019 and they welcomed three more siblings, two males and a female, in November 2018.
On first glance all meerkats look very similar; in fact it’s even hard for zoo keepers to tell them apart! They do however all have an individual pattern on their backs and with a trained eye this can be used to decipher individuals.
The meerkats are fed three times a day but their favourite daily meal would have to be their morning insect feed! Their inquisitive nature means that they’re always on the lookout for something new to interact with like cardboard tunnel enrichment systems and sandcastles hidden with tasty mealworm treats!
The meerkat is part of the mongoose family that inhabits dry regions of short grass and sparse woody scrub of Africa.
Meerkats live in large family groups. Each morning they emerge from their burrows to bask in the morning sun. Meerkats need a bit of early morning sunbathing to get going. This is followed by a day spent foraging for insects. Throughout the day the mob works as a team to protect the family from predators, taking turns acting as sentries watching over the group and altering them of potential danger. Meerkats can climb whatever they can to get a good vantage point of approaching predators
Meerkat mobs maintain visual and/or vocal contact at all times through soft grunts. All family members engage in play, grappling and wrestling with each other, which helps establish an individual’s position in the hierarchy peacefully.
Meerkats also have the unique ability to close their ears to keep dirt out while they burrow. Their stomach acts as a sort of solar panel during the winter months; a patch of dark skin on their stomach, under a thin layer of hair, collects heat from the winter sun in order to provide warmth on cool days. Meerkats also have outstanding vision and a dark band around their eyes, which reduces any glare from the sun.
Meerkats are not a threatened species. They’re present in several large and well-managed protected regions, including the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park between South Africa and Botswana.
Love meerkats? Join our mob – there are many ways you can help support these playful critters.