I am Tikki, the Meerkat. No-one really knows how I got to be called a meerkat. It is obviously an Afrikaans or Dutch word because "Meer" means "Lake" and "Kat" means "Cat" in both languages. But I don't like water and I don't live where there are lakes, even if, on a foggy day I might be mistaken for a cat. I am native to southern Africa although I was born here in England. I would prefer to live in the Kalahari desert where it is hot and dry but I don't mind living here because the food is good and I don't have to hunt for it. My Mom and Pops peoples spoil me rotten!
If I were living in the desert, I would have to hunt for termites, beetles, scorpions and centipedes. I would also dig for roots and bulbs. Bird's eggs would be a real treat and if I were really hungry, I would even eat a baby bird. But I don't live in the desert, so I enjoy eating chopped up vegetables and fruit such as peppers, marrow, peas, berries, grapes and broccoli. I also love potato slices and doggy kibbles. For protein I eat meal worms and Mario worms and occasionally I get a raw prawn or two or a raw chicken wingtip and even the yolk of a chicken egg. Quail eggs are a real treat. I don't mind grass-hoppers but I don't like crickets. And I drink a little milk every day and sometimes I share my Pop's yoghurt or oatmeal.
I love the sunshine. I have a very sparse coat on my tummy and I use the black skin on my tummy as a solar panel. I sit with my tummy towards the sun to get warm. Here where I live there is very little sunshine in winter so my Pops has given me a little sun on a stick. Lucky me. My coat has two layers, a soft under-layer next to my skin and a long haired outer layer. In summer I lose the under-layer but in winter I need it to keep warm.
My teeth are very sharp and I have to be careful when I play with people. I try to be gentle so that I don't hurt them, and I love to have my tummy tickled. I also love to play hide and seek and I like to wrestle. I have four toes on each foot and my front feet have long, strong nails that I use to dig with when I'm looking for insects. I also use them to dig up my Mom's carpets because that's fun. My Mom shouts at me when I do that but I just give her a big smile and all is forgiven. I don't like to have strangers point their finger at me or try to touch me and I will bite them if they do just so they know I can defend myself.
My family has three subspecies:
Suricata suricatta siricata
Suricata suricatta majoriae
Suricata suricatta Iona
The first are also called Slender Tailed Meerkats because their tails are long and thin. They live in the Kalahari desert. I am a Suricata Suricatta Majoriae because my tail is thick and shorter and my coat is light grey. My kin live in Namibia. Then there are the Iona crowd who live in Angola. I also have relatives who live in the southern Cape and who have ginger coats and white heads but they are not yet proven to be a subspecies.
If I lived in Namibia I would live with my extended family all together in a an underground den. We would dig our den under the desert with our long front claws which are very good for digging. We could also sleep in an abandoned aardvark hole. We could even have more than one hole to use as a den and we would use the one closest to the best food. I don't like getting wet but I can swim if I have to. There isn't much water in the desert and therefore I get most of my moisture from my food so I don't need to drink a lot.
I speak meerkat and Charlie the Bichon understood me perfectly. I am still teaching my Mom and Pops my language. I understand their language, and know what some words mean: "Here" means "here's food," "come" means "come here" or "come with me", "kitchen" means "go to the kitchen" "Come up" means "get up here," "Worms" means what it says, yummy, "milk" is the white stuff that I like to drink and "Tikki" is my name. "People" means that there are people walking outside, with "dogs" and "birds" fly in the sky and "cats" run under the bushes, as well as "thunderbirds" that make a big noise. I also know what "No!" means but I don't let on that I do. I also know how to ask to be picked up and I love being cuddled. Boredom is something that I cannot deal with and I have to be active most of the day. If I were locked away on my own I would go mad.
I sleep with Dog - no, not Charlie. My friend Dog is a big cuddly dog bigger than me and warm and soft. I also have a warm bed where Dog and I sleep. I go to bed when the sun sets. I'm going to bed now, so goodnight to you all, see you tomorrow.