Cuddly Meerkats ‘most murderous animals on Earth’

Cute meerkats are actually the world’s most murderous mammals with females at risk of being killed by their mum or sisters.

Best-selling author Lucy Cooke has found the matriarchs of the species rule through “bullying” and “murder”.

The antics of Aleksandr Orlov and his assistant Sergei from the adverts for price comparison website Compare the Market have given us the wrong idea about the furry natives of southern Africa.

Ms Cooke said research looking at thousands of different mammals has revealed meerkats have a one in five chance of being murdered by one of their own species, which is higher than humans, who were second on the list.

The zoologist, who has presented BBC shows like Nature’s Boldest Thieves and was taught by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, said dominant female meerkats will even kill babies because they “don’t want to share anything”.

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Speaking to comedian Cally Beaton on a podcast she said: “Meerkat society is predicated on violent ­competition between females to the extent that meerkats are actually the most murderous mammals on the planet.

“You’ll have a dominant female and she wants to dominate all the resources for her reproductive benefit, she doesn’t want to share anything.

“She also wants to co-opt all the other members into helping her raise the kids so she can devote all of her energy into pumping out babies.

“In order to do that, she’ll bully females, evict them if they try to get pregnant.

“If they do get pregnant and give birth, she’ll kill the babies but the females can come back if they wet nurse their murderer’s offspring instead.”

Meerkats eat beetles, small birds, reptiles, amphibians and plants, and are adapted for a harsh, dry habitat. The long-tailed creatures can grow to be 14in tall and weigh 2.1lb, living in family clans of up to 50 individuals.

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