Mongooses are small carnivorous mammals native to Africa and southern Eurasia, while meerkats are a species of mongooses found in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. Meerkats live in social groups and are known for their upright stance and vigilance when on lookout for predators. Mongooses have longer bodies with short legs and long tails for balance, whereas meerkats have shorter bodies with long legs for digging. Additionally, mongooses are carnivores who primarily eat invertebrates or small vertebrates, while meerkats tend to be omnivorous and feed on plants as well as animals.

What is a mongoose?

(Image by Dušan from Pixabay )

Picture of two mongoose

Mongooses are small carnivorous mammals native to southern Eurasia and Africa. The 34 species belong to 14 genera in the family Herpestidae. Historically, the classification of mongooses has been controversial because some authorities have placed them in the family Viverridae (which includes civets, genets, and linsangs) or in a separate family, the Helogaleidae. Mongooses live in forests, grasslands, scrub, and deserts. They are generally terrestrial and many are adapted for life in burrows. Some species are arboreal.

The most common and probably best-known mongoose is the Indian gray mongoose (Herpestes edwardsii), often called simply the “mongoose”. It ranges throughout sub-Saharan Africa and into Arabia. Another notable member of this group is the yellow mongoose (Cynictis penicillata) of Southern Africa. This animal is often called the red meerkat in South Africa due to its reddish coat. It inhabits open country from Angola to northern South Africa including arid areas such as the Namib Desert.

What is a meerkat?

(Image by Ian Lindsay from Pixabay )

Picture of a group of meercats

A meerkat is a small mammal that is native to Africa. Meerkats are closely related to mongooses, and they are both members of the family Herpestidae. Meerkats live in social groups, and they are known for their ability to stand upright on their hind legs. Meerkats are omnivorous, and they eat a variety of foods, including insects, reptiles, and small mammals.

The difference between a mongoose and a meerkat

There are several key differences between a mongoose and a meerkat. Mongooses are generally larger than meerkats, with adult males typically weighing around 4-5 kg (9-12 lbs), while adult female meerkats only weigh around 2 kg (4.4 lbs). Meerkats also have much longer tails than mongooses – up to 30 cm (1 ft) in length, compared to the 20 cm (8 in) tail of a typical mongoose. Another key difference is that meerkats live in underground burrows, while mongooses typically live in above-ground dens. Finally, diet is another area where these two animals differ, with mongooses eating mostly insects and other small animals, while meerkats are mainly herbivores.

Physical Characteristics

When it comes to physical appearance, mongooses and meerkats have different features that distinguish them from one another. Mongooses have a weasel-like appearance and are usually larger than meerkats. They have long, slender bodies, short legs, and a bushy tail. Mongooses also have sharp claws and teeth, making them formidable predators.

Meerkats, on the other hand, have a more slender and elongated body structure. They have long, slender legs and a slightly curved tail. Meerkats have a characteristic black patch around their eyes, making them easily recognizable. They also have small claws, which are not as sharp as those of mongooses.


Mongooses and meerkats have different habitats as well. Mongooses are native to Africa, Asia, and the Iberian Peninsula and are adapted to live in different habitats, including forests, deserts, and savannas. They are highly adaptable creatures that can survive in a wide range of environments.

Meerkats, on the other hand, are native to southern Africa and are adapted to live in arid environments such as deserts and semi-deserts. They live in burrows and are highly social animals that live in groups, or “mobs”.


The diet of mongooses and meerkats also differs significantly. Mongooses are omnivores and feed on a variety of foods, including insects, small mammals, reptiles, birds, and fruits. They are also known to feed on venomous snakes, which they are immune to.

Meerkats, on the other hand, feed mainly on insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They also feed on small mammals and reptiles, but these are less common in their diet. Meerkats are highly adaptable and will feed on a wide range of food when it is available.


The behavior of mongooses and meerkats is also different. Mongooses are solitary creatures and are usually seen alone or in pairs. They are highly aggressive and will attack other animals if they feel threatened. Mongooses are also known to be territorial animals and will defend their territory against other animals.

Meerkats, on the other hand, are highly social animals that live in groups. They are known for their cooperative behavior, where individuals work together to care for the young, guard their burrows, and forage for food. Meerkats also have a hierarchy within their groups, with dominant individuals leading the group.

What other animals are in the mongoose family?

Mongooses are a part of the family Herpestidae, which is composed of 33 species that are native to Africa, Europe, and Asia. The majority of Mongoose species live in Africa, where they occupy a wide range of habitats including forests, grasslands, and deserts. Several Mongoose species have been introduced to other continents via the pet trade or for pest control purposes, and are now considered invasive species in those areas.

The most well-known Mongoose species is probably the Common Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus), which is native to Africa, India, and parts of Southeast Asia. The Common Mongoose is often kept as a pet in other countries, and has also been used extensively in research due to its willingness to breed in captivity. Other popular Mongoose pets include the Dwarf Mongoose (helogale parvula) and the Crab-eating Mongoose (cynomys furcifer).

Mongooses are small to medium sized carnivores with long bodies and short legs. They have pointed snouts, small ears, and non-retractable claws. Most Mongoose species are covered in fur that can be various colors including brown, grey, black, or red. Some Mongooses also have stripes or spots on their fur coats. Adult Mongooses typically weigh between 2 and 5 kilograms (4 – 11 pounds).

What other animals are in the meerkat family?

The meerkat is a species of mongoose, and mongooses belong to the family Herpestidae. Other species of mongooses within this family include the Egyptian mongoose, the banded mongoose, the crab-eating mongoose, and others.

What are the types of meercats?

There is only one species of meerkat, which is scientifically known as Suricata suricatta. It is sometimes referred to as the suricate. Within this species, there are no recognized subspecies or distinct types.

What are the types of mongoose?

The Old World mongooses include 14 species in six genera, while the New World mongooses include 20 species in 11 genera. Here are some examples of each:

Old World Mongooses:

  • Genus Herpestes: Egyptian mongoose, Indian gray mongoose, Javanese ruddy mongoose
  • Genus Rhynchogale: Meller’s mongoose
  • Genus Hyaena: Striped hyena
  • Genus Atilax: Marshmongoose
  • Genus Crossarch

Can meerkats and mongooses be kept as pets?

In some countries, mongooses and meerkats are kept as exotic pets. However, owning a mongoose or meerkat as a pet requires a significant commitment and may not be legal in all locations.

If you are considering keeping a mongoose or meerkat as a pet, it’s important to research local laws and regulations first, as well as to consider the specific care requirements of these animals. Mongooses and meerkats are wild animals and require a large and secure enclosure, a varied diet, and a significant amount of time and attention. They can also be aggressive and may carry diseases that are transmissible to humans, so it’s important to take proper precautions if you do decide to keep one as a pet.

While both animals make interesting pets, they have very different care requirements. Mongooses are wild animals and require a large enclosure with plenty of space to run and hide. They also need a heated area for basking and access to UV lighting to prevent vitamin D deficiency. Meerkats can be kept in smaller enclosures but still need room to dig and play. They should also be provided with plenty of toys and enrichment activities to keep them busy.

Are mongooses and meercats friendly animals?

Yes, mongooses and meercats are both friendly animals. They are both intelligent and curious, and they make great pets. However, there are some differences between these two species. Mongooses are more independent than meerkats, and they are not as social. Meerkats, on the other hand, are very social creatures. They live in groups of up to 30 members, and they rely on each other for survival.

What are mongooses and meercats natural enemies?

Mongooses and meercats are natural enemies because they are competing for the same resources. Mongooses are predators and will kill meercats for food, while meercats are prey animals and will be killed by mongooses if they encounter them.

Are Meercats and polecats the same?

No, meerkats and polecats are not the same. Meerkats are a species of mongooses native to southern Africa, while polecats are a type of mustelid, a family of carnivorous mammals that includes ferrets, weasels, and otters. Polecats are found in Europe, Asia, and North America. While they are not the same species, they are both small, agile predators and are sometimes kept as pets.

How to keep meercats and mongooses away?

Here are some steps you can take to keep meerkats and mongooses away:

  • Secure your trash: Meerkats and mongooses are attracted to food sources, so securing your trash in tightly-lidded containers can help keep them away.
  • Plant native vegetation: Planting native vegetation can help create a natural barrier that mongooses and meerkats are less likely to cross.
  • Use physical barriers: Installing physical barriers, such as fences or walls, can help keep meerkats and mongooses away from your property.
  • Eliminate water sources: Meerkats and mongooses are attracted to sources of water, so eliminating standing water on your property can help reduce their presence.
  • Use repellents: Some people have had success using commercial animal repellents, such as sprays or granules, to keep mongooses and meerkats away from their property.

Remember, mongooses and meerkats are wild animals and it’s best to avoid contact with them. If you have concerns about them on your property, it may be best to contact local wildlife authorities for assistance.

What are the benefits of meercats and mongooses to nature?

Meerkats play an important role in their ecosystem and provide several benefits to the environment:

  • Pest control: Meerkats feed on a variety of insects and small vertebrates, helping to control pest populations.
  • Seed dispersal: As meerkats forage for food, they inadvertently scatter seeds in their feces, helping to promote the growth of new plants.
  • Soil aeration: Meerkats burrow extensively, which can help to aerate the soil and promote better root growth for plants.
  • Habitat creation: Meerkats burrows provide homes for other animals, such as reptiles and small mammals, and help to create a diverse and thriving ecosystem.
  • Research opportunities: Meerkats are well-studied and provide valuable opportunities for scientific research into topics such as social behavior, ecological interactions, and population dynamics.

Overall, meerkats play an important role in maintaining the balance of their ecosystem and provide many benefits to the environment.


Featured Image By – Image by Sebastian from Pixabay

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