Food preferences in captive meerkats (Suricata suricatta)

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Institutionen för fysik, kemi och biologi


By using a three-choice preference test I tested food preferences in eight meerkats (Sutricata suricatta) for nine different food items. The meerkats were presented with all possible combinations of 9 food items, in total 84 combinations. The meerkats displayed the following rank order of food preference: cricket > zophoba lava > egg white > banana = tomato > orange > apple > cucumber > carrot. A correlation test between the food preference and nutritional content showed that the preference is significantly correlated with protein content. There is also a significant correlation between ash content and the food preference. There were no correlations with water, fat or vitamins and minerals. This suggests that, as in the wild, the captive meerkats at Kolmården wild life park seek food with high protein content. Ash has a high significant correlation with protein, which may explain the correlation between ash and the food preference. A comparison between the individual’s food preferences showed that the oldest individuals had the highest number of correlations with their food preferences to other individual’s food preference. This suggests an observational learning capability from older to younger individuals, which has also been reported in wild meerkat

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