The new pups are the latest of three litters born to proud parents Pansy and Brendan in 2022, with keepers believing this to be the first time that we’ve ever seen this many litters from one breeding pair in a year!
The meerkat gestation period is around 10 weeks, and once born the nonbreeders in the mob will join parents in taking turns to babysit the young – this is a practice called cooperative breeding. The pups are born with their eyes and ears shut and weigh between 25-36 grams, so this method helps protect the babies when they are at their most vulnerable.
The new pups, born in August, have already made a big impression on visitors to the Park and joined older siblings Albus, Ariana, Aberforth and Argus (born in February) and Bellatrix and Barty (born in May) in enjoying their Desert Springs enclosure!
At just six weeks old these little ones are too young to sex, but in the coming weeks they will start to grow in confidence and gain more independence. At around nine weeks old they will become fully weaned and start enjoying the usual meerkat diet which includes locusts, crickets and meal worms.
Keepers have also got their thinking caps on to come up with suitable Harry Potter-themed names to match their brothers and sisters.
You can learn more about the four meerkat pups and the rest of the mob at the various Desert Springs keeper demonstrations and feedings held throughout the day in the Foot Safari. You can view the complete timetable here.