Mobs, Gangs, War Dances: The Violent Life of a Meerkat

Mobs, gangs, war dances… no, this isn’t a 90’s gangster film, but an average day in the life of the meerkat. Clan violence is very much a real thing in the animal kingdom.

Mobs, Gangs, War Dances: The Violent Life of a Meerkat
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When you think of a meerkat, your mind may immediately go to Timon from The Lion King. A cute, if not somewhat innocuous feline-like animal that often breaks into song alongside a warthog. However, what the Disney movie doesn’t show is thefierce war dancethat they often participate in. Wildlife photographers have managed to capture the true nature of meerkats.

Meerkats are pack animals and typically rest in groups – referred to as mobs or gangs – of between 3 to 50. When a gang of meerkats moves in on another group, whether it be for food or territory, the opposing clans will engage in a war dance in an attempt to intimidate and fend off the other.

Now, while the idea of ‘rival gangs participating in a war dance’ may read as something sinister that could be found in the script of a Scorcese film, the reality is actually far more cute than it is scary. However, that isn’t to say there aren’t any casualties.

A totally unintimidating animal. Getty Images

Meerkats will take position almost like spartan warriors, lining up to prepare for an eventual charge towards the opposing group. Should both mobs stand their ground post-war dance, the two groups will then engage in a brawl which, at times, does end up leading to some meerkat deaths. Oftentimes, it’s the meerkat pups that see themselves losing their lives.

Should one meerkat gang come out the victor, the winners will then mark their newfound territory with anal scent markers as well as faeces. What better way to make yourself at home?

Check out the video above to see footage of a meerkat war dance for yourself!