Meerkat

Meerkats (Suricata suricatta)Meerkats (Suricata suricatta) definitely range at the top end of the charts of charismatic animals. Their social life – snuggling together in chilly evenings, sun-bathing with the whole group in the morning sun, standing guard for the others with this unmatched look in their face – makes them simply irresistible, as does their manlike appearance when they stand up on their hind legs. The day of the Meerkats seems to be perfectly organized, from shared efforts in rearing and teaching the offspring to effectively digging the ground for their insect prey through to mutually maintaining the burrow system with its up to 1000 boltholes. The alarm calls of the guard on duty are remarkable: researchers found that the calls not only inform about the kind of threat (e.g. an eagle means a possible attack from above while a jackal would approach on the ground), but also about the level of danger. Accordingly the reactions of the group would range between increased alertness and immediate retreat into the nearest boltholes.

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