CZAAWE Resource Article

Biochemical and physiological observations in meerkats (Suricata suricatta) at two zoos during a dietary transition to a diet designed for insectivores
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Zoo Biology
Abstract 10.1002/zoo.20230.abs This research (involving two separate institutions) assessed the serum chemistries and body weights of meerkats (Suricata suricatta) over a 6–10-week feeding trial to determine the acceptability of a commercially available manufactured diet intended for the feeding of insectivorous animals. Five animals at two zoos were heavier than desired and otherwise healthy at the start of the studies. Measurements of blood chemistries including cholesterol and cell blood count remained within physiologic expected ranges throughout the short-term study. Plasma and serum amino acid levels also remained within normal expected ranges, except taurine, which was much higher than predicted, although there were no significant changes in taurine over time. After initiation of the 6-week trial, these trials were extended for longer-term evaluation of animals in regards to body weight maintenance. In the long-term study, some individuals were restricted in their access to diet, and achieved a beneficial weight loss while maintaining good health. Approximate dietary consumption for captive meerkats in our study averaged 32–44 g, or calculated 92–127 kcal GE/meerkat*day (83–114 kcal ME/meerkat*day), and weight loss of animals at one institution of 10.4% was accomplished over 151 days from day 0, at approximately 30 g, or calculated 86 kcal GE/meerkat*day (78 kcal ME/meerkat*day). Zoo Biol 28:307–318, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.