Mongoose vs. Meerkat — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 18, 2023
A mongoose is a small, carnivorous mammal known for its agility and hunting skills, often preying on snakes. A meerkat is a specific type of mongoose native to southern Africa, notable for its social behavior and upright "sentry" stance.
Difference Between Mongoose and Meerkat
Table of Contents
Mongoose is a term that describes various species of small carnivorous mammals found primarily in Africa and Asia. They are agile, known for their skill in hunting, and some species are famous for their ability to kill venomous snakes. Meerkats, on the other hand, are a specific species within the mongoose family. They are native to southern Africa and are most noted for their highly social behavior and complex burrow systems.
While both mongooses and meerkats belong to the family Herpestidae, they have different diets and hunting techniques. A mongoose can eat insects, rodents, and is particularly famous for eating snakes. Meerkats primarily consume insects, and unlike other mongooses, they rarely tackle snakes or larger prey. Their diet is more specialized and is often foraged in a group setting.
In terms of social structure, meerkats live in clans and are known for their cooperative behavior, including sentry duty where one meerkat stands upright to watch for predators. Mongooses have a more varied social structure. Some species are solitary, while others, like the meerkat, can be quite social.
The physical appearance of a mongoose varies from species to species but they usually have a long body and a bushy tail. Meerkats are more uniform in appearance, with a slender body and a face that often looks like they are wearing a mask. They are famous for their upright "sentry" stance, something that is not commonly seen in other mongoose species.
Varied (snakes, rodents)
Sentry stance, burrows
Compare with Definitions
A mongoose is a small terrestrial carnivorous mammal belonging to the family Herpestidae. This family is currently split into two subfamilies, the Herpestinae and the Mungotinae.
A small, agile carnivorous mammal.
The mongoose swiftly killed the venomous snake.
A small carnivorous mammal with a long body and tail and a grizzled or banded coat, native to Africa and Asia.
Known for snake-hunting abilities.
Mongooses are famous for their encounters with cobras.
Any of various carnivorous mammals of the family Herpestidae, native to Asia, Africa, and southern Europe and introduced elsewhere, having a slender agile body and a long tail, and noted for the ability to seize and kill venomous snakes.
Varies in social structure.
While some mongooses are solitary, others live in groups.
Any of several species of generalist predatory Carnivores in the family Herpestidae; the various species range in size from rats to large cats. The Indian mongoose is noted as a predator of venomous snakes, though other mongoose species have similar habits.
Found in Africa and Asia.
The mongoose is a common sight in both African and Asian grasslands.
Any species of pl=s; only distantly related to the Herpestidae, these are members of the family Eupleridae; they resemble mongooses in appearance and habits, but have larger ears and ringed tails.
Belongs to the family Herpestidae.
The mongoose, along with the meerkat, belongs to the family Herpestidae.
A species of ichneumon (Herpestes griseus), native of India. Applied also to other allied species, as the African banded mongoose (Crossarchus fasciatus).
The meerkat (Suricata suricatta) or suricate is a small mongoose found in southern Africa. It is characterised by a broad head, large eyes, a pointed snout, long legs, a thin tapering tail, and a brindled coat pattern.
A Madagascan lemur (Lemur mongos).
A small southern African mongoose, especially the suricate.
Agile grizzled Old World viverrine; preys on snakes and rodents
A small burrowing mongoose (Suricata suricatta) of southern Africa, having brownish-gray fur and a long tail, which it uses for balance when it stands on its hind legs. Also called suricate.
Suricata suricatta, a small carnivorous mammal of the mongoose family, from the Kalahari Desert, known for its habit of standing on its hind legs.
A South African carnivore (Suricata suricata, formerly Cynictis penicillata), allied to the ichneumons, having a lemurlike face and only four toes; called also yellow mongoose and suricate.
While his compatrioits scuffle about in the sand for delicious scorpions or fat, tasty mice, one meerkat stands alone, bolt upright on an exposed perch, scanning for hawks with dark eyes wide, ready to call out at the first sign of danger. Like other such guards in the animal kingdom, these endearingly vulnerable meerkat sentinels have long impressed biologists as true altruists - creatures willing to forgo food and brave danger to protect others. Now a study in the current Science suggests that these beasts may not be such adorable heroes after all. Researchers have discovered that meerkats abandon their hunting to act as guards only when their bellies are good and full. And they appear to do so, not as an act of noble daring, but because by being the first to see a predator, they can be sure of being the first down a hole and out of harm's way. Standing guard, researchers concluded, may be the safest thing to do once a meerkat has had enough to eat. . . . Even the adorable meerkat may yet redeem itself as a bit of an altruist. Although being a sentinel may itself not entail great risk, it is hard to imagine a selfish reason for their giving a shout of warning before dashing for cover. . . .
A mongoose-like viverrine of South Africa having a face like a lemur and only four toes
Do both belong to the same family?
Yes, both belong to the family Herpestidae.
Where are Mongooses found?
They are primarily found in Africa and Asia.
Where are Meerkats found?
They are native to southern Africa.
What do Mongooses eat?
Their diet varies but can include snakes, rodents, and insects.
Are Mongooses social animals?
Social behavior varies among mongoose species.
What is a Mongoose?
A mongoose is a small, agile, carnivorous mammal.
What do Meerkats eat?
They primarily consume insects.
What's special about Meerkats?
They have a sentry stance and complex social behaviors.
What is a Meerkat?
A meerkat is a specific type of mongoose native to southern Africa.
Are Meerkats social animals?
Yes, they are highly social and live in clans.
Do Mongooses kill snakes?
Some species are known for their ability to kill venomous snakes.
Are Meerkats a type of Mongoose?
Yes, they are a specific species within the mongoose family.
How do Mongooses protect themselves?
Through agility and, for some species, social cooperation.
Do Meerkats kill snakes?
Rarely, they mostly focus on smaller prey like insects.
How do Meerkats protect themselves?
Through sentry duty and living in burrows.
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Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.