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10 14/10/2015

New meerkat pups’ first adventure

  • Meerkats
  • Mammals
  • New arrivals
  • Habitat - Tsavo
  • Feature - Meerkat

Two mischievous meerkat pups have made their debuts.

Meerkat pups born
Our two latest arrivals explore their new surroundings after emerging from their burrow.

The delightful duo, born on 28 August, have been cared for by their parents and the rest of the mob for the past few weeks in their underground homes.

But now the tiny youngsters have emerged from their burrows and taken their first playful steps outside.

Lucy Edwards, lead keeper at the zoo, said:

Meerkats are really sociable animals and it’s great to watch our two new pups as they mix with the rest of the mob.

Much of their time is spent foraging, playing and grooming and it’s these types of activities that make the family such a close-knit group.

Meerkats can be found largely across the open country and sparse woody scrublands of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Angola.

The latest arrivals are the second litter of pups to be born at the zoo this year.

Meerkat mob at Chester Zoo
Meerkat pups

Meerkat facts

  • The species scientific name is, Suricata suricatta
  • Most meerkats live in underground burrows in large groups of around 30 individuals called a gang or a mob
  • Meerkats have scent pouches below their tails and will rub these pouches on rocks and plants to mark their territory
  • They have dark patches around their eyes that act to cut down on the glare and help them see far into the distance
  • Meerkats have four toes on each feet and very long, non-retractable claws to help them dig
  • Meerkats can close their ears to keep dirt out while digging
  • Pups are born after an 11-week gestation period
  • As a species they have an interesting feeding approach as they will always maintain visual and vocal contact whilst foraging, with one of the group standing on its hind legs and acting as sentry on the lookout for predators
  • They feed mostly on invertebrates and plant matter
  • In the coming weeks, once the zoo’s keepers have determined the sex of the pups, they will then decide on names
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