First Meerkat Pups for Indianapolis Zoo
October 30, 2015
The Indianapolis Zoo welcomed two tiny Meerkat pups on October 13. They are the first ever born at the Zoo! This is also the first litter for mom Rue. The births bring the number of Meerkats in the Indy Zoo’s ‘mob’ up to seven.
Photo Credits: Alea Kuczynski / Indianapolis Zoo
Gestation for Meerkats is about eleven weeks. In the wild, Meerkats give birth in underground burrows to help keep the newborns safe from predators. To shield the pups from dust in their subterranean homes, they are born with their eyes and ears closed. The Zoo's newcomers opened their eyes for the first time at eleven-days-old. Meerkat babies are also nearly hairless at birth, though a light coat of silver and brown fur begins to fill in after just a few days.
These desert-dwellers are highly social critters and live in groups, called mobs, which can include dozens of individuals from multiple families. Within the Zoo's mob, all of the Meerkats have been taking turns caring for the new pups, including the males.
The babies will continue to nurse for about nine weeks, and they grow very quickly. Though they weigh only about an ounce at birth, by six months old, the pups will be about the same size as the adults.
The Meerkat, or Suricate (Suricata suricatta), is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. They are native to all parts of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.
They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In the wild, they are present in several large and well-managed protected areas. However, population densities can fluctuate due to predation and rainfall variations.