Meerkats are active during the day. They can be spotted in the early hours of the morning huddling close to one another when it is still too cold to warm themselves in the early sunlight. Self-grooming can be evident during this period of gathering. However, meerkats have been found to spend less time in grooming during drought times as the morning rest tend to be short and the feeding gets underway immediately. After grooming, they begin to look for food.
Meerkats dig throughout the day looking for food while communicating by means of vocal calls to the rest of the group. This strategy helps keep the group a distance of a maximum of about 5 m apart from one another while foraging. A sentinel stands on guard on a rock or tree stump looking out for possible predators, communicating danger to the rest of the group. It has been found that they make two different types of alarm call depending on how urgent the situation is: either ‘run for cover’ or ‘danger may be in the area’. Which call is uttered normally depends on whether an aerial or a terrestrial predator has been spotted.
Meerkats are restricted to southern Africa, where they occur in the more arid parts of Namibia, Botswana, Angola and South Africa. In South Africa they occur in open areas, across much of the central and western part of the country.
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