Desert Dwellers

Desert Dwellers

A meerkat (Suricata suricatta) is specially adapted for the harsh desert environment.


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Biology, Geography, Physical Geography

Meerkats (Suricata suricatta) are specially adapted for life in the harsh desert environment.

Meerkats are small and lean. These characteristics allow the animal to thrive with limited food sources.

Around its eyes, the meerkat has dark rings to reduce the glare of the bright desert sun. It relies heavily on keen eyesight to search for prey and to look for oncoming predators.

A meerkat can stand erect on its hind legs, an unusual ability in a mongoose. Its tail acts like a third leg, enabling a sturdy stance.

Fast Fact

  • A meerkat can open and close its ears to keep out sand while digging for prey.

Fast Fact

  • A meerkat can spot a predator, such as an eagle, from more than 300 meters (1,000 feet) away.

Fast Fact

  • A meerkat has a strong tail that can function like a third leg.

Fast Fact

  • The eyes of a meerkat have thin, broad pupils. These allow it to see a wide view without turning its head.

Fast Fact

  • The markings on a meerkat's back allow it to blend in with desert rocks and brush.
Media Credits

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Jeanne Wallace-Weaver, Educational Consultant
Anne Haywood, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Program
Meerkats 3D
Alison Michel
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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