Suricata suricatta

NZ meerkat
IUCN Conservation Status –
Least Concern
Extinct In The Wild
Class: Mammals
Order: Carnivora
Family: Herpestidae

You can spot our mischievous mob of meerkats between the children’s play area and the pademelon/ wallaby exhibit, at the top of Newquay Zoo.

Meerkats are native to southern Africa, they inhabit open arid areas, with short grasses and scrub.

As a carnivorous species, meerkats will eat insects, lizards, spiders, birds and eggs. They can also kill and eat venomous snakes, scorpions and centipedes without getting hurt or becoming ill as they are immune to certain types of venom.

Interesting facts!

  • Meerkats are very sociable animals living in groups as large as 40, the collective name of a group of meerkats is called a ‘mob’ or a ‘gang’.
  • Members of each mob will perform ‘sentry duty’ – standing up on their hind legs and standing alert, listening and watching for danger like soldiers on duty.
  • Meerkats dig safe places called bolt-holes throughout their foraging area which are used to hide in the case of an emergency.
  • They are specially adapted to living in harsh desert conditions – dark patches around their eyes to reduce the glare of the sun and a clear protective membrane across their eye to protect their eyes whilst they are digging.


Meerkats have a widely distributed population and are classed as Least Concern. They currently do not have any major threats, except from natural predators, so at present their wild population remains stable.