meerkats use sen­tries to de­fend their base

As one of Africa’s most vul­ner­a­ble mam­mals, meerkats re­quire a con­stant look­out to en­sure their sur­vival

World of Animals - - How Do An­i­mals Wage War? -

Meerkats may ap­pear cute and harm­less, but there’s some se­ri­ous mil­i­tary strat­egy go­ing on in­side their furry heads. These small African mam­mals are mem­bers of the mon­goose fam­ily and live in groups of be­tween 20 and 40 meerkats known as mobs or gangs.

The meerkats’ base is a large net­work of tun­nels. In­trud­ers like snakes or birds of prey can be cat­a­strophic for meerkat fam­i­lies, so a sen­try is al­ways on guard to pro­tect the group from dan­ger. The look­out will use var­i­ous calls to warn his al­lies about dif­fer­ent threats – one may re­late to a ter­res­trial preda­tor, while another warns of dan­ger from above. A meerkat is able to spot a fly­ing ea­gle from over 300 me­tres (984.3 feet) away.

As well as de­fend­ing their base, meerkats aren’t averse to a bit of war­mon­ger­ing. Work­ing as a unit, meerkats can fight off a preda­tor as fear­some as a jackal. How­ever, they don’t just fight preda­tors. If they en­counter a ri­val group, the mob may per­form a war dance, at­tempt­ing to in­tim­i­date the en­emy by kick­ing up clouds of dust and rush­ing to­wards their foes. If both groups refuse to back down, a bloody bat­tle will of­ten en­sue.

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