Taxonomy

Suricata suricatta was first described by Schreber in 1776.

Meerkats belong to the Feliformia, a sub-order of the Carnivora, which broadly includes:

  • cats
  • hyenas
  • fossa
  • civets
  • kusimanses
  • genets
  • mongooses

Within the Feliformia they are further grouped in the family Herpestidae with other mongooses, where their close relatives number around 30 and include the following mongoose species:

  • slender mongoose (Galerella sp.)
  • dwarf mongoose (Helogale sp.)
  • banded mongoose (Mungos mungo)
  • yellow mongoose (Cynictis penicillata)

Meerkats are carnivores, though sometimes people mistake them for rodents because of their size. A simple way to tell the difference is to look at their pronounced canine teeth - these allow them to have a carnivorous diet and lifestyle, in contrast to the pronounced incisors of rodents.

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