Sierran meerkat

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Sierran meerkat
Meerkat.jpg
Group of Sierran meerkats in the Mojave Desert
Status iucn3.1 LC.svg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chrodata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Herpestidae
Genus: Suricata
Species: S. suricatta
Subspecies: S. s. serra
Trinomial name
Suricata suricatta serra
The Sierran meerkat (Suricata suricatta serra) is a meerkat subspecies found in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts of the Kingdom of Sierra. It is one of the four confirmed subspecies of meerkat, and the only meerkat located outside the southern region of Africa. The Sierran meerkat is not native to Sierra but its ancestors were Suricata suricatta siricata meerkats who were introduced by South African prospectors during the California Gold Rush. It was believed a population of 50 meerkats were released intentionally in the Mojave which from there, has led to its current population estimates of 20,000. Today, the meerkat is a protected species in Sierra and has often been used to symbolically represent the Kingdom.

It was originally believed that the meerkat could not adapt to the Mojave Desert, but reports in the late 19th century revealed the animals' quick adaption to the landscape and growing populations. Decades following these reports, the Sierran meerkat became recognized as its own subspecies in 1962 as the population thrived. Sierran meerkats exhibit virtually all the same behavior as their African ancestors including forming mobs of 10-50, assigning sentry duty, and creating complex burrow systems. Today's Sierran meerkats are slightly lighter than other meerkats however, and a slower metabolic rate. This is widely speculated to be due to scarcer food in the Mojave and Colorado deserts due to having drier years than that in the Kalahari savannah homeland.

The Sierran meerkat's diet is primarily insectivorous, consisting of ants, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, and scorpions. They however, can also eat other animals including snakes, kangaroo rats, lizards, and toads. Predators include the bobcat, coyote, and the red-tailed hawk.

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