Getting close and personal Part I I - Jolly Roger, dominant male

Jolly Roger is a small and very cheeky meerkat.

When Möfzi became "interesting" for the males, he and Plattohr (flat ear) were rivals.

Even though he is smaller than his rival, Jolly Roger would beat him up regularly and chase him away. Plattohr could be seen literally crawling on his belly towards Möfzi, if Jolly Roger looked away. As soon as Jolly Roger realized these advances, he would chase Plattohr away again.

This would sometimes end in bloody wounds and a very badly chewed backside of Plattohr`s neck.

Their feud is carried on until today. Plattohr was also chased away, when the pups were still very small and underground most of the time.

Jolly Roger is a tough guy, but he is also very sweet and gentle with Möfzi, grooming her cheeks and playing with her.

This is Jolly Roger:

- he is now 6 years old
- he is small
- he has light grey fur
- a long, straight tail
- he can jump very high and will make running jumps
- is voice is rather deep, he will make a very demanding "brrp" sound, if something is of interest (see video)
- he loves Möfzi, but like all no longer newly-weds, they will fight over minor issues and chase each other away ;-)

He is the one trying to get my bracelet in the beginning of this video, the other kat is "stubby tail" (Stummelschwänzchen his most distinctive feature is the missing black tip of his tail ):

Meerkat pups discover an interesting toy

Yesterday our pups discovered an interesting "something", which had dropped from the skies ;-)

Little Sayuri is turning into a cheeky little meer-person. We visited around feeding time and the meerkats got a big tray full of fruit.

Sayuri was first and last on the tray. She defended "her tray" against everyone, even the adults. Since the pups are eating solid food only, she has grown, even though she is still smaller than her littermates.

Before we went home, I slipped a bright orange velcro-tape under the glass panel. The pups loved it! They tried to catch it and ran after it. When I held it above their heads, they bit into it, too. They are much less shy than the adult males at the same age.

Some days ago I watched the two larger pups bouncing on their hindlegs like little kangaroos. They had abviously forgotten that they are supposed to be meerkats! All this playfighting and wrestling is so much fun to watch.

Here are the proud parents and one of their pups (left: Dad Jolly Roger, right: Mom Möfzi)


.. summer`s over...

Today was a very bright and sunny day with lots of sun and mild temperatures in the afternoon.

We visited the 'kats shortly after they had been fed and the pups were still eating or dragging remains of their chickens around.

The adults still present them food, even though you can clearly see their mixed emotions.

"Oh, there`s a pup. I`ll bring it this lovely piece of fruit... hm, on second thoughts, I would rather eat this myself... NO, IT IS A PUP, I MUST NOT EAT ITS FOOD... hm, but this piece of fruit looks so delicious..."

It is really funny to watch an adult crane his or her neck watching the pup eat, coming closer to the pup (which will defend its food) and then keeping distance, trying to look indifferent.

Little Sayuri is making progress, too.
She is sitting and standing up more and more often and today we watched her even stand up on her hind legs and try to look up, like the others do. She managed to keep her balance for a split second, falling back onto her front legs.

She will no longer fall on her back, though, if she sits or stands up.
If she only had a longer tail, things might be a lot easier for her. As it is, her tail is not long enough to touch the ground, when she stands up...even Uncle Stubbytail has got a much longer tail! It is only about one third of the "normal" tail length.

The other two pups are in very good condition, too and all three of them have grown.
They are now about 9 weeks old and slowly turning into juveniles.

Möfzi weaned them about one week ago and they now eat solid food only.

These two pictures show Sayuri biting into one of her littermates and Sayuri at play with her little brother or sister (we still can`t distinguish the two other pups).


Oops, she did it again... and again... and again

Today we watched little Sayuri sit up successfully for the first time!

The first time was about 2 seconds, but later in the early evening she sat up and kept her balance for about 10 seconds! After this, she put down her front paws and walked away, as if nothing spectacular had happend.

We also saw her wrestle with one of her littermates, a thing she was not able to do a couple of days ago.

And we made first contact with her too today. She is still easily scared by movement or sounds, and will jump or run away, but our fingers were interesting enough to explore.

W played with her littermates putting our fingers under the glass panels of the enclosure and moving them from side to side or pulling them away and putting them back in in a different place. The pups were really excited and literaly jumped at our fingers.

And they are so incredibly noisy! Their "breehbreehbrrpbrrp"-sounds often get very loud as soon as an adult comes close.

Christian suggested that the adults feed the babies, because the noise of the pups' begging calls makes their ears ring and they want it to stop. Sounds like a reasonable suggestion ;-)

Here is a video of the noisy little kats, make sure your loudspeakers are switched on!


Getting close and personal Part I - Möfzi, dominant female

It`s time to introduce the mob! Until now we still do not know the "real" names of our kats, but I hope we will be able to give them in the future.

The names used on this blog are our nicknames for the individual meerkats and are based on their characters and/or individual features.

"Möfzi" is really un-translateable, as it is not a real German word, but a descriptive word we made up meaning roughly that she is larger, heavier or "möfziger" than the others ;-)

So this is Möfzi:

  • Möfzi is the oldest kat in the enclosure and somewhere between 8 and 9 years old
  • Möfzi is the only female of the mob (not yet counting the babies)
  • Möfzi is rather tall, her fur is light grey and she has a slightly bent tail
  • Möfzi can rarely be heard making those little "brrpbrrp"-sounds, but her voice is very loud when she is making the chattering noises you hear, when meerkats either want to be left alone or do not want to engage into something for example play etc.
  • Möfzi is very greedy and as a dominant she will guard her food closely hipslamming other meerkats, snarling and lunging at them
  • you can sometimes pet her, when she`s in the right mood and she trusts you
  • Möfzi has lost one of her lower canines, but she is still very able to eat all kinds of food
  • Möfzi is proud mother of three
Here are some pictures of Möfzi (still with all lower canines):

Here are some videos featuring Möfzi on youtube. The first video shows Möfzi and the small, subordinate male Swingkat ("Schaukelmännchen"). He is one of her favourite "playthings" and he is also the small, dark meerkat on the picture above.

This video shows Möfzi devouring a cherry and playing with the stone.

And in this video I get very close and personal with Möfzi ;-) No, it did not hurt!


... I forgot...

... we adopted the mob! Since yesterday we are "adoptive parents" of our mob.

The adoption fee for the mob is 100 € /year. This additional money is used for the animal park, which is financed in part through public funds and donations, as admission to the park is free.

Baby Meerkat Attack!

Two days ago on a day with fine weather I visited the meerkats at their feeding time. They got cat food, which the babies can chew easily. The males sniffed it, and I saw their noses wrinkle at this "insult" ;-)

But the babies tucked in heartily and in particular baby Sayuri!

I see more and more similarities between her and Uncle Stubby Tail. Her fur will almost certainly turn out as fluffy as his and her character...

On the day I visited, some people brought their dogs near the enclosure. 2.5 little tails were raised, backs arched and one of the babies even started some war dancing, kicking up dust with its front legs.

If you have never seen meerkats war dancing, it looks like this:
tails erect, backs arched, the kats will jump up and down and sometimes kick up some dust. It looks very funny, but it is meant as a serious threat.

After some time, only Sayuri and one of her littermates were still arching their backs and raising their tails. And guess, what? She made spit calls at the dog! Just like Uncle, when he was small, he used to be the first in line to growl at dogs of any size. I wonder, what`s next.

She is still trying to stand up on her hind legs, but still not very sucessfully.

For those of you who have not yet read up on the previous posts: Sayuri suffers from a neurological problem, she has trouble with her balance and is likely to stumble, as she also sometimes has trouble coordinating her hindlegs. But she`s a happy kat anyway and making the most of her abilities.

You can have some short glimpses of her at the beginning and end of this video:


Happy meerkats

As the weather was very fine and hot these last two days the 'kats were in an excellent mood.

At the moment their schedule features an extended afternoon katnap in the later afternoon. As soon as it got a little cooler the babies started to play.

We were very happy to see an extended play session between Sayuri and one of her littermates. She got really wild, jumping on him/her and there was a lot of jumping, lunging, biting and running. I found it remarkable that she took the initiative!

At the beginning of last week she would mostly remain passive, if one of her littermates jumped onto her or tried to engage her into play. She is trying to stand up more often, but still not very succesfully.

Yesterday one of the keepers asked our opinion on her, as his impression was not quite as favourable regarding her development. She is still smaller than her littermates (and I think she will always be) and as they grow rapidly the distance is becoming more and more obvious. He told us that they will soon discontinue her extra-treament as catching her twice daily might have a negative influence on her position within the group.

I personally think that she is developing well and her activity is prove of a rather Ok condition.

It is very sweet to watch her mother supervise the play, when all three pups are playing together. It looks like "Hey, don`t you two play too wildly! Take care of your sister!"

Another new thing this weekend was our first contact with two of the babies!

As the babies are exploring almost all of the enclosure, they will come quite close now. The enclosure is fenced off with glass panels and below these panels there is a small space for the kats to reach through.

When we put our fingers through the space, the adults will usually come in hope of food and this time the babies came too and started scratching at our fingers!

The underside of their little paws is soooo soft!

After some time of futile grabbing and scratching, one of the pups starting nipping our fingers... as this did not yield any food, the nipping became more insistent! And those little teeth are already quite sharp ;-)