I saw something quite amazing over the weekend. My mom and I were sitting outside in the sun reading the Sunday papers. Their property has a fairly high white wall running along the one side. Next to it, at the back, is a small enclosure with a large dog kennel built from bricks, that they used to put the dogs in when there were visitors or repairmen around. They haven’t used it in ages, though, and there’s all sorts of rubble lying there. On the other side of the wall, is open veld.
So, while reading the papers, I saw something out of the corner of my eye, flashing by.
“What was that?!” I exclaimed.
I kept looking at the wall, and then to my amazement, a saw a largeish brown meerkat pop over it, right onto the roof of the dog-kennel, maybe a meter from where I was sitting. It was so cute, and close enough for me to see it’s little ears. If I’m not entirely mistaken, that is one of the key differences between meerkats and mongooses, the matter of external ears versus internal. (I speak under correction). Edited to add: Actually, I was speaking total crap here. I did a search, and there was nothing said about ears, merely that the meerkat is a member of the mongoose family. So there you have it on authority.
The meerkat’s attention was totally focused towards the wall and not on me. I looked towards it, and there was a big white cat from next door, just sitting there, watching the meerkat as if it was a large mouse. Then the meerkat starting giving these little dry barks. It’s the first time I have heard them make a sound. It obviously felt very threatened.
The dogs arrived at this stage, but couldn’t reach the meerkat because it was in the enclosure. But the poor little meerkat had dogs barking behind it, and a cat waiting for it to lose concentration in front of it. Eventually, it jumped up and over the wall, and the cat, wary of the dogs, didn’t follow. This whole episode took at least 10 minutes. Now that’s what I call entertainment. Animal Planet right in the backyard.
My mom thinks that the meerkat has babies somewhere in the enclosure, because it returned there afterwards. There is definitely something drawing it there.
Unfortunately, there is always the worry of rabies. The dogs have all had their rabies shots, but with a wild meerkat in the vicinity you’d want to look sharp. So cute though.