Background Info

Meerkats teach their young pups amazing behaviors and survival tactics. Meerkats are predators. They eat dangerous prey such as toxic millipedes and poisonous scorpions. In order to survive these hazardous food sources, meerkats teach the pups to remove stingers and toxins before eating them.

Questions

1. 

Why does a meerkat need to eat this hazardous animal?

Show Answer

Millipedes are a good source of protein and fluid.

2. 

What clever tactic does the meerkat use to remove the toxic coating from the millipede?

Show Answer

The meerkat rolls the millipede in the sand.

3. 

What do you think would happen if a meerkat ate a millipede without rolling it in the sand first?

Show Answer

The toxins would make the meerkat sick and weak. If a meerkat is unable to hunt, it will be in danger of dying.

4. 

What are some safety tactics human parents teach their young children?

Show Answer

Answers will vary.

  • Stay away from a hot stove.
  • Don't touch the electric socket.
  • Hold hands with a parent when crossing the street, and look both ways.
  • Don't play with fire, knives, or other items that can be unsafe.
  • Stay a safe distance away from bees or snakes.
  • Don't eat berries or mushrooms you find outside.

5. 

How are these tips different from those of the meerkat?

Show Answer

Answers will vary. Some human parenting techniques involve machines and technologies rather than relying on the natural world. Humans are usually able to control their environment more than meerkats can.

Fast Facts

  • One defense tactic used by meerkat groups is to stand upright, puff up their fur, and band together. This forms an intimidating group.
  • Meerkats cleverly defend themselves by stirring up dust (to hide) before they retreat to a bolthole, or temporary burrow.

For Further Exploration

Vocabulary

Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

behavior

Noun

anything an organism does involving action or response to stimulation.

food

Noun

material, usually of plant or animal origin, that living organisms use to obtain nutrients.

Encyclopedic Entry: food

hazard

Noun

danger or risk.

poisonous

Adjective

toxic or containing dangerous chemicals.

predator

Noun

animal that hunts other animals for food.

prey

Noun

animal that is hunted and eaten by other animals.

survival

Noun

ability to live.

toxic

Adjective

poisonous.

toxin

Noun

poisonous substance, usually one produced by a living organism.

Credits

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Writer

Jeanne Wallace-Weaver, Educational Consultant

Editor

Anne Haywood, National Geographic Society

Producer

Alison Michel

National Geographic Program

Meerkats

Sources

Meerkats 3D

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