Werribee Open Range Zoo

Meerkat

These animals love to dig, and humans love to watch them! 

Meerkats are not a threatened species, and it is unknown whether wild populations are increasing or decreasing.

Meeting the meerkats at Werribee Open Range Zoo is an important way to connect with the animals of Africa, and to learn about the Zoo’s conservation programs. 

There are three subspecies of meerkat: red, grey and slender-tailed, the subspecies at Zoos Victoria. 

Meerkats live in southern Africa, which is dominated by the Kalahari Desert. Countries where they are found include Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

They are small: 26–28cm (with a 22cm tail). 

Finding safety in numbers, meerkats live in groups of 10–30, with a female in charge of each smaller family unit. Meerkats spend most of the day foraging for food. A lookout meerkat stands on a high viewpoint until relieved by another meerkat. Danger can come from threats such as jackals, vultures, snakes, servals or hawks. Meerkats have a wide range of vocalisations, and warning calls are specific to each form of danger. The pack may band together to threaten a predator or rival pack with much hissing and jumping.

Meerkats are omnivorous, and their diet includes pupae and larvae of moths, butterflies, beetles and flies; termites; crickets; spiders; scorpions; and other invertebrates that they excavate. They also eat lizards, small snakes, birds, eggs and mice. In dry areas they get moisture by chewing local melons, roots and tubers.

Meerkats may be seen in their special housing at the Bistro; there is also a meerkat display near Lions on the Edge. 

Meet the animals

Gidi

Born 2004

Gidi is a smart fellow. He stays out of the group politics of the female Meerkats.

Courtney

Born 2004

Courtney wants to be the ‘popular’ girl but has to compete with other girls in her group.

Left Spot

Born 2004

Left Spot is the ‘outsider’ and does her best to stay out of the way of the other females in her group.

George

Born 2004

George is the only male in his group. He is often on watch duties as the two females in his group tend to gang up on him.

Moley

Born 2002

Moley is a relatively gentle creature.

Encounters
Slumber Safari - couple

Slumber Safari

Enjoy an overnight experience at the Zoo in our luxury safari camp. Your stay includes amazing close-up animal encounters, drinks and dips at sunset, a sumptuous dinner, unique night-time activities and breakfast alongside the meerkats.  

Mini Keepers Giraffe

Mini Zoo Keepers

Little animal lovers aged five and under will have a wild time on this zoo adventure as they come face-to-face with meerkats, zebras, giraffes, antelopes and rhinos.

Did you know?
  • The average lifespan of meerkats is 12 years, but they live for longer in captivity
  • A phenomenal sense of smell helps meerkats locate prey, which they then dig out with their long-clawed forefeet
  • In half a day, a meerkat can dig 400 holes and displace 50 times its bodyweight in sand!
  • Meerkats appear to be immune to scorpion and snake venom
  • The black patches around their eyes help protect against the constant glare of the sun, rather like humans wearing sunglasses