They might look cute but don’t be deceived by their furry, little faces, these are cold-blooded killers.
A group of British scientists followed 12 groups of meerkats in the Kalahari Desert and found that they will do just about anything to survive, including killing their own children and grandchildren.
Most animals will do just about anything to survive, you say. Sure, but according to the study which was published in the journal of Nature Communications, meerkats take it to a whole other level.
The University of Edinburgh’s Dr Matthew Bell, who led the study, said: “The meerkat way of life is a paradox, in which alpha females will attack their daughters, banish them from the group and infanticise (sic) their offspring.
“Our study reveals dominant animals are worse off when subordinates in their group try to breed - explaining why they brutally suppress others much of the time. We expected this result, but its impact exceeded our expectations.”
“Brutally suppress other much of the time” - that’s some strong language from Dr Bell but it’s well deserved. The females in this sinister species often attack each other to ensure they remain the alpha reproducers in the group and with most meerkat groups sitting at around 20 to 50 members, that can mean an awful lot of violence.
They also breastfeed each other’s babies and often banish members from the group who then suffer considerable stress, weight loss and reduced survival.
It should be noted that other animals such as rodents, bees and ants are also known to attack their young but then they don’t pretend to be all cuddly and stuff.