Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: meerkat from The Macquarie Dictionary

any of several small, burrowing, southern African carnivores, especially Suricata suricatta, with dark bands across the back, related to the mongoose.

Plural: meerkats

Etymology: Afrikaans : literally, sea cat, suricates

Summary Article: meerkat
From Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

Colonial species (Suricata suricatta) of the mongoose family (Herpestidae). It is a burrowing carnivore found in southwestern Africa that differs from mongooses in having four (rather than five) toes on each foot. Meerkats are noted for their constant vigilance for predators. This sentinel behaviour involves one member of the group finding an elevated position, standing on its hind legs, and alerting the group of danger when it is seen. The meerkat grows to a total length of 17–24 in. (43–60 cm). Insects and other small animals constitute most of its diet, but bulbous roots are also eaten for the water they contain. It is diurnal and easily tamed as a pet. The yellow mongoose (Cynictis penicillata) is sometimes called the red meerkat.

Keywords: meerkat

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Copyright 1994-2017 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc

Related Articles

Full text Article meerkat
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

A small carnivorous mammal, Suricata suricata , also called suricate, of South African grasslands. It is about 60 cm long including the tail...

Full text Article meerkat
Philip's Encyclopedia

(suricate) Any of a number of small carnivorous mammals closely related to the mongoose , native to the bush country of southern Africa....

Full text Article suricate
The Penguin English Dictionary

/syooərikayt/ noun a meerkat of southern Africa with dark bands on its back and a dark tail tip: Suricata suricatta [ French ...

See more from Credo