There are a couple of sites where you can get info on meerkats and I will also give you the basic facts on this page.
But there is very little research that has been done on wild meerkats and mostly on a specific sub species in a specific area. I have only begun doing research in the last year and so far I found one or two differences just in the different groups that I worked with around Oudtshoorn. So until I have done enough research and compared it with other wild meerkat researcher’s findings all of you will have to be patient and follow our progress.
Now meerkats are very social animals who live in big family groups called mobs or gangs (because they gang up and mob their enemy's). The size of the group will depend on the terrain and the availability of food. Meerkats are mammals which means they "gives birth to plus minus 5 live young", and they breastfeed.
Only the dominant male and female are allowed to mate and have offspring, but in extreme cases where it is a new and small group that needs to build up their numbers for security reasons, only then sometimes would they allow a subordinate daughter to raise her young within the group. All male offspring are banned from the group when they reach sexual maturity at the age of approximately one year. All females can stay with the family and help raise their mother’s offspring. They usually stay with the family till they decide to start their own family, or they are banned from the group for breaking the rules.
Meerkats stay in a network of underground burrows which they take over from mongoose or dig at the base of an east facing slope where the rain downwash had collected a deep sand bed over many years (Usually old termite mounds).
These burrows are holes leading into underground chambers"(up to 2.5 meters deep)" were the meerkats sleep together for heat.
Like me meerkat hate cold and wet weather, so they very rarely come out of the burrows when it is raining.
In good weather they would come out of the burrows approximately 15 to 20 min after sunrise depending on cloud cover and temperature. If it is really cold and miserable it can take up to an hour before they emerge.
The dominant female would almost always be the first one to emerge from the burrow. This only differs when the dominant female is in the last quarter of her pregnancy, then one of the subordinate females would come out first to observe for any danger before they allow the others to emerge. They would then heat up by exposing their solar panels (Patch of black skin under the fur on their tummies) to the sun. They would also cool down during a hot day by lying with their tummies on the cold sand in the shade.
Notice the dark skin under the fur
When they have heated up enough they will start grooming each other or playing and wrestling. This is almost like school where they prepare themselves for future battles with rival gangs. At this time the young meerkat are also shown how to look for food. They also clean and dig in the burrows. During these activities there will always be one meerkat on sentry duty (90% the dominant female).
All the above takes place with in the first two hours after sunrise (depending on th e weather of course), all of a sudden the dominant male would start making a ..eh...eh...eh...eh... sound which can be translated as " come on girls put on your makeup and powder your lashes, I’m going to start the car and I’m going for breakfast". He would then set off in a different direction every day, for they always rest an area for a couple of weeks after foraging there.
Security and Sentry duty
As they move off to forage one meerkat will find a mount of sand, a shrub or bush or any object that is higher than the surrounding area and standing on its hind legs he/she would look out for any predators on land or in the sky. The sentry will stay on duty till another meerkat finds a perch further ahead at which time he/she would get down from its lookout point and follow the others while they forage. This goes on for the rest of the day, except when they would take time for siesta where one meerkat will always stay on sentry duty.
Meerkats have one or two sets of sleeping burrows where they would have their babies and raise them till they are old enough to go out foraging. From these burrows there are dodge holes in every wind direction, about 50-100 meters apart. As they forage they use these holes to hide in when threatened. These dodge holes are just one or two connected holes which are safe havens away from home.
Foraging is a very important activity for unlike squirrels, meerkat does not store food, and they have to eat every day to keep their bodyweight up. They go around sniffing out insects and worms, digging up to 30 cm holes to find their pray.
I have seen were a meerkat emerge completely into a hole that it has just dug, only to emerge with a tiny little worm that does not justify al the effort it took to get it.
They would forage the whole day for insects, worms, small rodents, reptiles, scorpions, millipedes, centipedes, bird eggs, small birds and any dead creatures that they can eat.
They stop only when it is very hot, then they would find some cool sand in the shade of a shrub or bush and lay flat on their tummies to cool themselves.
Depending on availability of food they can travel up to 3 km a day to find food.