World`s first Meerkat Advent Wreath

Today is the first Advent Sunday. I will explain this for those of you unfamiliar with some of our European traditions.

The 4 Sundays before Christmas - which is on the evening of December 24th in Germany "Heilig Abend" - we usually have an Advent Wreath (Adventskranz) with four candles. Each Sunday an additional candle will be lit.

Normally we don`t have any Christmas decoration at home, as we are both not very fond of Christmas. But this year I got this wreath as a present from a colleague (Elfenzaubereien) on Dawanda.

She sells felted products, but she also does floristics. She came up with the idea of making a Meerkat wreath, so I provided the brown felt meerkat-pups which she used for the wreath.

The crocheted meerkat on the picture is also from someone (womajaka) on Dawanda. She is a crochet expert and I asked her to have this meerkat made for us after the pattern by Roman Sock.

It is still unnamed, but you can see that it`s already found a friend in our mob.


Busy weeks...

These weeks are extremely busy for both of us...

I am preparing my first Christmas-Market which will be on December 13th and 14th. I am sewing up a storm...

There must be more meerkats in our home currently than at the Kalahari Meerkat Project ;-) and the dust bunnies are crawling all over the place!
Before I started sewing full-time, I never realized that it is such a dusty business.

The weather has turned as well. It`s winter now and yesterday we had our first snow for this season, but it`s already gone again today. Only the mountains are still covered in white. This is quite exceptional, as the last two winters were very mild and we had only very few snow, even in the mountains.

We visited the kats on Sunday and this time we walked out instead of taking the bikes. I prefer walking in the cold, because I get very cold cycling longer distances.

And with watching the kats for a long time in the cold wind, it is much less confortable to cycle with hands and feet gone numb with cold than to walk and get your blood circulation going in no time.

The three juveniles were snuggled together midway on the big lookout hill under the big heat lamp. We watched Sayuri sit up for a looooong time whithout falling over! She is starting to look more and more like Möfzi, except that she will certainly not grow as tall.

The adults are all very well fed at the moment, Swingkat has recovered, too. A couple of weeks ago it looked like he had lost weight, but now he looks almost the same as before his operation.

The kats have a cat scrátching post in their inside enclosure and it features a hammock. This hammock is slightly damaged due to overuse by the adults, but Sayuri and Caruso enjoyed playing tag and bouncing around and in and out of the hammock.

I am thinking about getting one of these for the kats for christmas, but I am still waiting for a positive answer from the kats` keeper.

We watched Sayuri and Caruso playing indoors for quite a while. Sayuri is getting better at the wrestling matches, too. She will not fall down at once, but can muster the strength to fight back.

Soon now she will also succeed in jumping onto the ledge leading to the heat lamp in the inside enlcosure.

It is already getting more and more difficult to tell Caruso and Swingkat apart from far away. Caruso will soon be as big as he is.

And the difference in length between Snoutie and Jolly Roger is also getting smaller.

Jolly Roger and Fat-Ears are still continuing their feud: if Flat-Ears is inside under the heat lamp, Jolly Roger will chase him out and if he is outside under the big heat lamp, he will chase him away, too.

So Flat-Ears has to sit under the small lamp by himself feeling sorry...

Due to the good and rich food in the last months, Möfzi has gained a lot of weight.
Her fur size is certainly rather double XL than L/XL at the moment... but it`s OK, they need the extra weight in winter, as they sleep outside and stay outside most of the day.


Playtime in November

Yesterday I visited the kats in fine and warm weather. I came right for feeding time, everybody got one big mouse.

The pups will be 4 moths now in a couple of days.

I was a bit concerned about Swingkat, as he still looks skinny with his hip bones still protruding. H

e ran away with his mouse and at first I didn`t see him eating, but later I watched him eat his whole mouse unmolested from anybody.

Some time later he had snatched another piece from someone else and Snoutie came up to him making enthusiastic begging calls. As Swingkat did not respond and hipslammed him, Snoutie bit into the other side of the mouse and both had a real tug of war, with Swingkat winning.

Both Caruso and Snoutie devoured their mice making enthusiastic moop-moop-moop-sounds, in particular Caruso was very loud. I wonder wether she will still be that chatty as an adult.

The adults no longer respond to the begging calls, but the pups still try to snatch a treat from the adults.

Sayuri is more quiet and she still fiddles about with her mouse for a long time. It looks like she is rather sucking it than biting into it ;-) She is a sweet little ball of fur and still smaller than the other two pups.

I talked to their keeper about Swingkat`s condition and he also remarked that Swingkat is eating well, but is still a bit skinny. He said that he is torn between what to do for Swingkat as he is still thin and the others, who are very well fed... Möfzi and Orlok in particular are getting middle age spread.

Stubby Tail`s treatment was successful, his sinus trouble is better, but it`s not gone completely yet.

After feeding time the pups came over to play and dig in the rustling leaves that had gathered in some places of the enclosure. They also had some little play-wrestling matches.

I was slightly concerned, when a large hornet tumbled into the enclosure and Snoutie started inspecting it and later biting into it. But he did it very well and ate it without being stung.

When the 5 adult males were about 8-9 months old, Flat-Ears caught a bee, but did not bite into it correctly.

The bee was still buzzing inside his mouth and he got a nasty sting. Flat-Ears collapsed within seconds, the other kats came running to check on him. Christian jumped into the enclosure to check on Flat-Ears, as no keeper was around and Flat-Ears lay completely still, but then he ran to fetch the keepers.

Flat-Ears was collected by one of the keepers and we thought that he was dead.

About 30 minutes later, he was transported back inside a cage and alive and kicking! They had put a frozen mouse onto his throat and within minutes he was back.

That`s why I was really concerned, when I watched Snoutie exploring this hornet... but he managed better than Flat-Ears.


Meerkat camera contest

We visited the kats on Friday in the late afternoon. This time we lowered the camera into the enclosure and were met with enthusiastic actors ;-)

Sayuri was the first to have a close look. As you will realize, she still isn`t too steady when standing up and looking up at the same time. She will only stand up, if it can`t be avoided, but her curiosity will often take the upper hand and she will come close and explore. I already had her attention with a cherry-shaped red keyring pendant for which she also stood up to explore.

As you will also realize, she still has trouble walking backwards and will often do some strange and funny summersaults.

She likes walnuts very much and will play endlessly with the shells defending them furiously from everybody.

At 2:48 in the video, it looks, like somebody is licking the lens ;-)

The kats were very interested in the dangling lens cover and would bite into it and pull at it relentlessly. Caruso in particular is very intent on biting and pulling, she will also go for your fingers, whereas Sayuri will mostly sniff at them and take a gentle nip. Snoutie is also very likely to bite. All of them are so very curious and none is shy.

When the 5 adult males were about the same age, they would never come as close, they were very shy. When they were older, I was bitten more than once until they had found out how to nip at my fingers without hurting me. And I am sure that Orlok always did it on purpose...

Once, when I was wearing a hooded sweater which features some tiny "horns" and I pulled up the hood, as it was windy, Orlok jumped right back and growled at me.

Stubby Tail would stand up and eye me curiously, taken some steps back and forth, never taking his eyes off the hood. You could see how he was trying to understand, what was going on. I wonder, if they remember the incident as "The Day of the Big Black Animal"...

So here comes the latest video of the three youngsters, they will be 4 months old in a couple of days.


Möfzi and Sayuri try a new look and an old feud will never end

After Möfzi already tried to wear a fashionable sawdust attachment on her face, Sayuri tried a slightly belated Halloween-Gothic make-up today.

After the fog had cleared in the late morning, we had a mild day with glorious sunshine and there is still lots of bright foliage left on the trees. As the weather was so fine, I decided to visit the kats today. On Saturday during my last visit, it was rather nasty and cold outside.

The kats spend a lot of time under the heatlamps, but they are outdoors most of the time. They will only move indoors about an hour before sunset to spend some time under the heatlamps.

But they sleep outside in their burrow, I watched them retreat for the night when the sun was almost down.

There seem to be some hot issues between Flat-Ears and Jolly Roger, though. Jolly Roger chased him out of the inside enclosure, even though Flat-Ears was sitting there all by himself. Jolly Roger also asserted dominace by lunging at him and chasing him off for no evident reason.

We`ve had this behaviour a couple of times before and sometimes it`s really Flat-Ear`s fault, as he sometime simply does not know how to "behave" towards his superior.

Some years ago we watched Flat-Ears being chased and mobbed by everyone, including Orlok, who would normally defend him against Jolly Roger. But not this time.

After some time we found out, what the problem was, though. As Flat-Ears is not allowed to mate with Möfzi, he tried his luck with poor Stubby Tail, who is also a male.

At that time Möfzi must have been in oestrus, so Jolly Roger might have been confused "What, another girl...? And this lout is stealing her away..."
He would try mating with Möfzi - who turned him down, by simply sitting it out - but then the activities behind his back would distract him and he would lunge at Flat-Ears.

I am not sure what caused the dominance assertion today, either Möfzi is in oestrus, or Flat-Ears is trying his luck with Stubby Tail again, or it`s just a matter of principle. Who knows.

Back to Sayuri and the other two pups! It will not take very long until they will have outgrown Swingkat. Snoutie (Rüsselchen) is already almost as tall as him, but he was always the biggest of the three pups.

When I arrived some moron had obviously thrown in a whole piece of some salty pastry ("Laugenstange" in German, it`s quite yummy, but not for kats!) and Sayuri was first in carrying the largest piece - which was about half the size of her body - around and defending it furiously.

The was a wild chase with everybody trying to get their share, except for Stubby Tail who spent the time on the big lookout hill doing sentry duty.

The problem with this kind of pastries is that they tend to stick in the kat`s mouths and they often have a hard time, getting those pieces unstuck. They sometime sneeze and nearly vomit (and sometimes they really vomit, too!).

Hard bread is not that problematic, as they simply chew and bite of small pieces. But this stuff is rather soft and they tend to rip out large chunks.
Poor Swingkat also had a large share and had a hard time getting the stuff unstuck.

I really hate those people!! I mean there are HUGE SIGNS printed on orange paper asking people NOT to feed the kats.

Why don`t they go and feed the ducks, for god`s sake!!

Apart from this, the pups have already learned to beg for treats from visitors and this kind of stuff is certainly no good food for them! I am afraid that they might already have tried ice-cream and other junk thrown in by irresponsible visitors.

As many of the kats have dental problems, I am afraid that the pups will already grow up with bad teeth and some of the adults will also encounter massive problems in the next years.

So this is the downside of such an open animal park, where you can come an go as you like.

But anyway everybody looked healthy and happy enough today. The treatment for Stubby Tail`s and Flat-Ear`s sinus problems seems to help, the bumps on their noses are nearly gone. It also looks, as if they had been opened and cleaned.

Möfzi is very very round at the moment, I am not so sure, if she is just getting fat, or she might be pregnant again. Wait and see!

So here come some pictures I took this afternoon, they are not too good, as I am no expert with this high-tech camera-thingy, but I managed to get a very cute shot of Sayuri with black make-up. She had been digging inside a root stub from a discarded potted plant and the black earth got stuck in in her face.

The video of Möfzi was taken some weeks ago.

Left: Sayuri with new make-up and right Snoutie (Rüsselchen) relaxing under the heat lamps

Swingkat under the heat lamp. On the right picture he is still trying to get rid of the pastry stuck in his mouth.

Inside under the heat lamp with uncles Stubby Tail (back) and Orlok (front), the pups are Sayuri and Snoutie

... cuteness knows no bounds...

No, today no entry about our mob, I just stumbled upon this super-sweet video of five little cuties: