Sign up for our Free email Newsletter
and get all the latest wildlife news!
Choose:
Wild Travel Magazine

Meerkats as pets?

01/06/2010 11:54:06
news/2010_jan/meerkat_cage

Meerkat in a UK petshop. Credit The Captive Animals' Protection Society

UK campaigners seek end to meerkat pet trade

June 2010. UK citizens are up in arms over the trade in meerkats as pets following undercover investigations by the Captive Animals' Protection Society. The popularity of TV series like Meerkat Manor and a UK TV commercial for an insurance comparison website fronted by a computer-generated talking meerkat, has led to exotic pet dealers trading in the animals.

Meerkats, home to Southern African deserts, are mostly sold individually and can command prices between £600 and £1,500 each.

The Captive Animals' Protection Society (CAPS), a UK charity, has now turned its attention to discouraging people from buying the animals. Craig Redmond, Campaigns Director for the Captive Animals' Protection Society commented:

Sociable animals but often sold individually
"Meerkats are just the latest animal to become ‘fashionable' in the UK, but there is a huge amount of misery behind this trade. The vast majority are sold individually despite being incredibly social animals. Animal dealers know that while they can sell one for £700 they are unlikely to get customers willing to buy five or more together. And it is even less likely that they will be provided with a habitat suitable for a colony of meerkats.

"Tremendous psychological stress is caused to these animals when they are taken from their parents at a few weeks old to be hand-reared, kept caged and isolated. CAPS investigators posing as prospective customers have visited pet shops and private dealers and the advice we have been given was always wrong. Like all wild animals they have complex needs that cannot really be met in captivity, particularly in private homes.

"There is also a high risk of course that, being active and burrowing animals, meerkats will cause havoc to a house, which is why many sellers advise keeping them caged all the time."

The charity has set up a website pledge at www.savethemeerkat.com where people can register their support for the campaign.

Several wildlife experts have already backed the campaign and advised people not to have a meerkat as a pet. Professor Tim Clutton-Brock, head of the Kalahari Meerkat Project said: "Meerkats are social animals that naturally live in family groups. Keeping them on their own under confined conditions is likely to lead to high stress levels."

Grant M. Mc Ilrath of The Meerkat Magic Conservation Project at Oudtshoorn, Western Cape commented: "Meerkats do not make suitable pets and should be left in the wild where they belong. They are highly sociable mammals that constantly require activity and care."

Caroline Hawkins, creator of the award-winning series Meerkat Manor, added: "Meerkats are social animals that naturally live in family groups. To deny them this and to prevent them from roaming freely is to extinguish the very character and vitality that makes them so appealing."

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

Meerkat's are still for sale in some petshop's, where did the breeding stock come from is the question that should be asked & if legally for sale why no wild animal licence required.
Personally I think they are charming little creatures but certainly not suitable as a pet due to their need to dig & forage over a large area, & certainly should not be kept in a rabbit or ferret cage.
Having seen two small group's in zoo's/ collections open to the public on the isle of wight recently doesent look as if all their need's are being met there either, four is not really a big enough family group, Although some enrichment attempts had been made the area was far too small for such active animal's & injury evidence in the form of missing tail's was in evidence in both places explained as dominance fight's between females. I am fairly sure this is caused by rushed introductions as these animal's are known to be extremely territorial, also because the animal's do not have enough room for escape from an aggressor

Posted by: cathy the slayer | 16 Nov 2010 01:41:57

My friend witnessed two meerkats for sale, who appeared extremely distressed, enclosed in a small cage. These animals are WILD and should be allowed to stay wild in the country that they originated in, which is South Africa. How can a human being possibly provide the environment that this highly sociable animal needs? It should be made illegal and all pet shops heavily fined if found to be selling them as pets!!

Posted by: Amanda Edwards | 12 Sep 2010 13:26:55

To post a comment you must be logged in.
CLICK HERE TO LOG IN AND POST A COMMENT

New user? Register here

 

Click join and we will email you with your password. You can then sign on and join the discussions right away.