Strength in Numbers

Strength in Numbers

A meerkat (Suricata suricatta) mob scares away a Cape cobra (Naja nivea).


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Biology, Geography, Physical Geography

A meerkat (Suricata suricatta) survives by staying with its family and fulfilling its role as a group member. Each day one meerkat acts as a babysitter while another acts as sentry. Groups members also fulfill roles as teachers, showing the pups how to hunt and capture prey. Another important group tactic is working as a unified team against dangers. Following the lead of the matriarch, meerkats fight rival mobs and stand up to dangerous predators.

Fast Fact

  • For centuries, meerkats have been praised and revered for their impressive ability to fight off aggressive and dangerous snakes. They do this by "teaming up" on the snake.

Fast Fact

  • When the desert air cools, meerkat groups pile into a large cluster to keep warm.

Fast Fact

  • The meerkat family, or mob, needs to remain large and unified. Since the litter of pups represents the future strength of the group, a family member will fight to the death to protect the litter.

Fast Fact

  • When creating burrows and boltholes, a meerkat quickly digs into the sand and uses its hind legs to push the sand out. As the meerkat digs deeper, other meerkats come and assist, forming a team. The team passes the loose soil upward, toward the opening. There, another meerkat builds a mound where the sentry can stand and keep watch.
Media Credits

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

October 19, 2023

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