Meerkats, squirrels, pangolin and dassies

The Meerkat is a small mammal belonging to the mongoose family. Meerkats are mostly found in the desert areas of southern Africa.Meerkat

They are small and investigative animals and live in large underground networks with multiple entrances which they only leave during the day. They are very social, living in colonies averaging 20 – 30 members. Meerkats groom each other to strengthen social bonds.

Meerkats are known to share their burrow with the Yellow Mongoose and ground squirrel, species with which they do not compete for resources. If they are unlucky, sometimes they share their burrow with snakes.

The meerkat’s biggest human threat is loss of habitat, pet trade and getting hit by cars.Squirrel

Squirrels are medium sized rodents found in the Americas, Eurasia and Africa. They breed only once or twice a year and give birth to multiple babies. They are social animals, who often live in colonies, except for the tree-dwelling species, which are more solitary.

Big threats to squirrels are road traffic accidents, attacks by domestic dogs and cats and a cat-related parasitic disease.

A Pangolin (also referred to as a scaly anteater) has large keratin scales covering its skin and is the only known mammal with this adaptation. It is found naturally in tropical regions throughout Africa and Asia.Pangolin

Pangolins are nocturnal animals that use their well-developed sense of smell to find insects. The long-tailed pangolin is also active by day. Other species of pangolins spend most of the daytime sleeping, curled up into a ball.

Arboreal pangolins live in hollow trees, whereas the ground dwelling species dig tunnels underground, to a depth of 3.5 metres. Pangolins are also good swimmers.

Pangolins are hunted and eaten in many parts of Africa and are one of the more popular types of bush meat. They are also in great demand in China because their meat is considered a delicacy, and some Chinese believe pangolin scales have
medicinal qualities. This, coupled with deforestation, has led to a large decrease in the numbers of giant pangolins. In November 2010, pangolins were added to the Zoological Society of London’s list of genetically distinct and endangered mammals.Dassie

The Dassie is an African rodent found among rocky outcroppings. Dassies are squirrel-like in appearance. Their tails are hairy, but not bushy whereas the soles of their feet are distinctly bare and have pads. Their heads are noticeably flattened. The overall coloration can be a range of browns, greys, or almost black. The nose is yellowish and tends to stand out. They have no underfur.

The biggest threat to Dassies is deforestation along with the hunting of them by Humans.

Let’s all play a role in protecting our animals in the wild where they belong by supporting Operation Bite Back. Adverts for any of the above or similar animals will be red flagged by Junk Mail. Remember to report any suspicious adverts to Junk Mail Pet Care. Contact your nearest SPCA if you spot these animals in trade!

Saskia Meintjes

Hyperactive, extremely realistic and addicted to reading can best describe me. Life is all about the good memories and sitting around will not create them.

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