Meerkats live in large families and depend on teamwork and their underground homes for survival in their habitat. Meerkats are small animals that would be good prey for many predators, but with family cooperation, they are able to survive in the Kalahari Desert.
The most important job of the meerkats is that of the watch guard, or sentry. While other meerkat family members are out looking for food or playing, one meerkat acts as the sentry. Standing on its hind legs, propped up by its tail, the sentry scans the surrounding area for predators such as hawks, eagles, snakes and jackals. If a threat is spotted, the sentry lets out a distinct bark that warns the other family members and sends them running for the nearest tunnel. The meerkats stay in the tunnels until the threat is gone. The sentry is the first out of the tunnels to make certain the coast is clear.
Meerkats live in these large, elaborate underground tunnels and are highly adapted for life in the dark. These tunnels provide them with shelter and an escape route from predators. Families of meerkats are called gangs or mobs and consist of 20 to 50 extended family members.