Suricate - Suricata suricatta
SIZE: Length (including tail) 50 cm, mass 730 g.
COLOUR: Varies from silver-grey to greyish-brown with
irregular brown or black bands across the back, from
shoulders to base of the tail. Head and throat are
often whitish with dark nose, ears and circles around
the eyes. The tip of the tail is also dark.
GESTATION PERIOD: 11 weeks
POTENTIAL LONGEVITY: 12 - 13 years
MOST LIKE: The Banded Mongoose, which is also active
by day. The suricate is smaller, the dark bands across
its back are less distinct and its tail is short-haired
and slender rather than bushy.
HABITAT: Arid, open country, including scrub, grassland
and fynbos in the southwestern Cape.
are silver-brown with distinct darker mottling on the upperparts,
which sometimes forms into transverse bars towards the rump.
Their hindquarters are more stocky than their upper bodies,
and they have rounded, broad heads, sharp, pointed muzzles
and thin, tapering tails with dark tips. They have dark
circles around their eyes, which tend to make their eyes
look larger. They are diurnal, and sun themselves
while constantly on the alert for predators. If the posted
sentry lets out an alarm call (consisting of one sharp bark),
then the pack will scuttle away to the safety of their burrows.
The type of alarm call given varies depending on whether
the attack is coming from the ground or the sky: for ground
predators it is a staccato call; for an airborne attack
the call is long and drawn out. Suricates constantly survey
the sky and they can distinguish harmless birds from lethal
Their main predators are large raptors such as martial eagles,
although jackals are also a serious threat. Suricates will
often share their burrows with yellow mongooses and ground
squirrels although the suricates may drive the others away.
Their main food is insects and reptiles such as geckos,
but they also dig for scorpions and will take small snakes.
Two to three young are born at a time.
|The Suricate is an attractive member of the
mongoose family, and is easily distinguishable largely due to
its habit of perching upright on its haunches in front of its
burrow, or on a rock or an anthill, using its tail for balance.
They inhabit burrows, and are usually found in colonies of 2
- 30 individuals. They are vocal, and communicate with continuous
murmurings: they also engage in mutual and self-grooming, and
employ 'division of labour' amongst the colony: certain individuals
are posted as sentries, others as babysitters, etc., and these
duties are rotated among the pack.
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