Meerkat society: Underdogs are best at problem-solving

by Rebecca on May 5, 2012

in Animal Stories

By Victoria Gill Science reporter, BBC Nature

Meerkats will stick paws and noses into many a crevice in search of their favourite food – scorpions. And research has now shown that the more subordinate members of meerkat troops are the most “innovative” when it comes to foraging. Read more of the main story at:


Meerkat emerging from sleeping burrow (Image: Alex Thornton)
  • Meerkats are highly social mongooses. They take turns foraging for food and standing guard to look out for predators.
  • When “guard meerkats” spot a predator, they warn the rest of the group with repeated staccato alarm cries. Scientists who have studied these calls say the animals produce slightly different sounds depending on the urgency of the threat
  • The same researchers who set these tasks for the meerkats have previously found that the animals have “traditions” – set ways of behaving within their group. While members of one meerkat troop will consistently get up very early, those of another will always emerge from their burrows much later in the morning.

Meerkat group near burrow (Image: Alex Thornton)

Meerkats live in groups of up to 30 animals with one dominant and several subordinate males

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