Meerkat Mom Möfzi

At the beginning of June we thought that Möfzi, the dominant female of the group, might be pregnant. As we are regular visitors (usually once a week) we soon realized that she really was pregnant...

Clear signs of pregnancy in meerkats are usually visible after approx. 1 month, the duration of pregnancy is around 70 days, so we expected the babies to be born in Mid-July.

When we visited on July 12, she was really well-rounded, so we decided to visit again in the next days. On our visit on July 15 Möfzi had disappeared...

We spent some time circling the enclosure, when suddenly we heard baby noises from one of the burrow entrances.: Möfzi was carrying one of her tiny pups from one side of the burrow to the next. She was very nervous and the rest of the group was on edge and barked at the smallest things which they would usually ignore, like planes flying over the enclosure etc.

Baby meerkats are born blind, naked and with ears and eyes closed. They usually spend the first 3-4 weeks underground. Their ears and eyes open approx. 10-14 days after birth.

At this time it was not clear, whether there was only one pup, or several pups being carried around by their mother. Here is the first video we made of Möfzi's babies:

It was not clear, whether there was only one pup, or several pups, as they were too tiny to distinguish. We were quite concerned about the pups, as they are usually kept below ground for the first weeks.

Several days later, we discovered this:

Three baby meerkats! What a wonderful surprise!

Their eyes had just opened and their fur was still very sparse. Even though it was still too early for the pups to be above ground, they seemed fit and healthy enough.

Their mother was still very nervous and dragged the pups around a lot, unfortunately she did not always carry them in the best way (by the scruff of their neck), but sometimes by one of their tiny legs or even the tail, OUCH!!

We also discovered that one of the pups is missing part of its tail... There is also an adult male with the tip of his tail missing, so now he`s got company.

The males care very much for the pups. When they were brought above ground, they would huddle the babies or take them onto their lap. One of the males "Schaukelmännchen" ("Swingkat") turned out to be an excellent nanny.

After 2,5 weeks the pups very already trying to make their first steps, always under the surveillance of the group.

This was when we discovered that the pup with the missing tail tip might have a handicap. The mother ofter carried her (it`s a girl) around by her tiny leg and she was often covered in dirt. She appeared weaker and did not cry as loud as the other pups.

When the pups emerged by themselves at around 3 weeks this handicap became apparent. She was not able to climb out of the burrow and had difficulties finding her way, as she would often lose her direction falling over etc.

This is a picture of her at about 3 weeks old.

When we took our holiday at the beginning of August, we were afraid that she might not survive...

... so it was a wonderful surprise to come back after two weeks and see her having made rapid progress!

She is still prone to stagger or fall, but manages to climb out of ANY hole and over ANY obstacle by herself. She still cannot stand on her hindlegs, like her littermates, but she is trying!

She is taken special care of by the Mundenhof keepers and get twice daily Vitamin-B-shots, for which she has to be caught... but she likes to hide ;-)

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