Slender-tailed meerkat

At the Detroit Zoo
Janie can be seen digging, foraging and playing at Meerkat Digs, located in the African Grasslands behind the Japanese macaque and lemur habitats. She is shy and takes a long time to warm up to visitors, but seems to enjoy people-watching through the glass and observing the window-washing process as she follows the squeegee. The Zoo is presently working to identify suitable companions for Janie.


The meerkat has dark skin and thin fur to help control its body temperature against both hot and cold conditions. Its long tail is used as for balancing while standing. It has very long, non-retractable claws and a keen sense of smell, making the animal very quick to hunt its prey.

Scientific name: Suricata suricatta
Continent: Africa
Habitat: Dry, open country with short grass and sparse woody scrub.
Size: 10-12 inches tall
Weight: Up to 2 pounds
Diet: The meerkat has a herbivore diet, mainly consuming insects, invertebrates dug up from the ground and small vertebrates.
Reproduction: Gestation 11 weeks; two to five babies per litter
Lifespan: 9 years
Conservation Status: Least Concern


Meerkats can survive without drinking water; they receive their moisture through their diet of roots and water-heavy fruits.

Meerkats create families, called mobs, which can include up to 30 members. Very rarely are new members allowed into a mob.

Meerkats work in groups to look out for one another; typically a few will stand watch while the others eat or sleep.

Detroit Zoo Meerkat in the News

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View the feature here