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Piece together this cute meerkats jigsaw puzzle online to create a lovely picture of a meerkat family.
Fascinating Facts about MeerkatsMeerkats are very intelligent social animals who live in tightly-knit family groups. Their society is matriarchal, in other words the head of their group is female, with the lady meerkats usually being slightly larger in size than the males.
They live in complex underground burrows which can have as many as 90 different entrances and various underground levels. Adult meerkats are are 10 to 14 iinches in height and weigh only around 730 grams. They'll often stand upright on their hind legs using their tails to balance and to survey their surroundings. Standing up also allows them to sun themselves, as they have a patch on their tummy with very little hair, showing the black skin below which absorbs heat.
Meerkats don't have any excess body fat to store long-term energy, so need to go off foraging on a daily basis. When on a foraging trip they'll usually eat insects but will also feed on small lizards and snakes, eggs, other small mammals, and sometimes even small birds. One of the foods that meerkats enjoy is a nice tasty scorpion. Luckily, they are immune to scorpion venom. They can also survive 6 times as much snake venom than would kill a rabbit. They obtain the liquids that they need from fruit and plant roots that they eat.
Whilst the rest of the family are out foraging, one Meerkat will stay behind at the main burrow to babysit the young pups. The pups join the foraging party at around 28 days old. Pups will chirp loudly to get one of the older merkats to bring food. Initially dead creatures are brought for a pup to eat. Later, wounded animals are brought so that the pup can learm to kill its food. This then progresses to fully active live animals. Eventually the bringing of food stops so that the pup will have to forage for itself.
Being quite small animals, they have to be careful to avoid any predators that may think of them as a tasty snack. When foraging, one meerkat will act as a sentry, standing upright to check out danger. If everything is clear, this guard will emit intermittent chirps to let the rest of the foraging party know they are safe. At the sight of danger, the sentry will let out an alarm call. Meerkats have a large number of vocalizations for example separate calls for ground predators and those comng from the sky, each with 3 different levels of urgency have been identified. At the sound of a sentry's warning the foraging party will dash to one of the numerous boltholes that they have throughout their territory.
These animals can be fiercely defensive of their territory against other meerkat groups. If two groups meet, they'll perform a display to show their fitness, whereby each group raise their tails in the air and head toward the opposing group in a bouncing fashion. Often one of the groups will retreat before any actual fighting happens, but other times a pitch battle may occur with the winning group gaining or retaining territory.
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