Tswalu Kalahari’s small carnivores offer perhaps the most special and unique sightings – and the meerkat viewing is fantastic! Tswalu has two colonies of meerkats that have grown to trust people and allow close approach and observation.
Here are 10 interesting facts about these fascinating little creatures:
1. Mating is usually reserved for the alpha male and female.
2. When she is ready to breed, the alpha female chases away other females of 10 months and older who she sees as a threat.
3. The pregnant female will increase her body weight by approximately 40% during gestation.
4. The gestation period for a meerkat is about 11 weeks.
5. Mum usually gives birth to two to five pups in the burrows below the ground.
6. The meerkat pups stay below the ground for about three weeks before they are introduced to the world around them.
7. Meerkats are cooperative breeders, which means the non-breeding adults help to look after the pups. These helpers also make sure that they are fed and teach them how to catch their own food once they start to go foraging with the rest of the group when they are just a month old!
8. Meerkats are able to stand on their hind legs for lengthy periods without falling over because they use their tail as a tripod to give them height and stability.
9. The body language of a meerkat is mainly determined through its tail. When another mob of meerkats is detected in their territory, they will lift their tails up straight and start their “war dance” to show the interlopers that this is their territory.
10. In flight, meerkats will also raise their tails so that visual contact is maintained as they are running to safety.
Watch meerkat pups playing at Tswalu Kalahari