Back to The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project - helping to conserve Wild Meerkats and Mongooses since 1993!

Why do certain Meerkats guard and not others?

Cg

ELEVATED GUARDING IN MEERKATS - VIGILANCE AND ASSOCIATED ENERGY

Which factors determine who guards - the frequency, duration and relative position to individuals within a Meerkat group:

http://www.meerkatmagic.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=184

Usually there are multiple guards up at any time, the larger the group is the more often different animals stand up on guard. This is called basic vigilance behaviour and all animals will stand up on guard to scan the area for danger.

Visibility determined by habitat type is a major influencing factor regarding how far apart different animals in a group of meerkats will be foraging, and the further they are apart the more guards will be active.

These basic vigilant sessions last from a few seconds to a few minutes at a time. Often one animal will stop guarding when another stands up to guard.

The most important factor deciding who stands up on guard is condition- animals who have just eaten, often stand up briefly before continuing to forage.

Elevated or raised guarding may last from a few minutes to over three hours! These animals have eaten very well, and can now afford to stand on guard for much longer periods, while their food digests.

So they benefit the group by their guarding but most importantly themselves, because they are the first to see danger and usually the first to avoid it, by running below ground to safety. 

The animals who are guarding like this may climb up on vegetation up to 7 metres high! Although being very good climbers going up objects. Meerkats are extremely poor at climbing down from objects, since they do not have retractile claws/ nails. These nails (four on each foot, front and back, with much longer nails on the front foot) do not stick into surfaces easily, like tree bark, going downwards, but help in the meerkats upward clinging climb.

Meerkats often fall from high up off the ground, the equivalent fall in metres for a human would kill.

CONSERVATION THROUGH EDUCATION WITH GRANT MC ILRATH THE MEERKAT MAN IN THE MEERKAT MAGIC VALLEY RESERVE OF THE MEERKAT MAGIC CONSERVATION PROJECT OUDTSHOORN WESTERN CAPE SOUTH AFRICA. (Grant Mc Ilrath The Meerkat Man author of MEERKATS book 2016). Any international book seller and library can order a copy of MEERKATS with the following information: MEERKATS BOOK BY AUTHOR GRANT MC ILRATH THE MEERKAT MAN ISBN-13 9781921517655

The book can also be requested as a reference book in libraries and educational institutions as it is a scientific conservation work.

The MEERKATS book can be viewed in many book stores or on the New Holland Publishers site here: http://uk.newhollandpublishers.com/meerkats.html

to comment