Psychology Publications

Title

Scent Marking Behavior in a Captive Group of Meerkats (Suricata suricatta)

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-1986

Journal

Journal of Mammalogy

Volume

67

Issue

1

First Page

120

Last Page

132

Abstract

This study describes the scent marking behavior of a captive group of meerkats (Suricata suricatta). Anal gland secretions were deposited most often by the leg lift movement. Both males and females marked regularly and the frequency of marking by individuals fluctuated over time. Not all prominent objects in the enclosure were consistent targets of leg lifts. Novel objects, even when identical to established marking targets, were not marked over a period of several months and the scent of an unfamiliar conspecific did not increase marking. Frequency of marking did increase after established scent posts were cleaned, when access to posts was prevented prior to an observation, and when an unfamiliar conspecific was present. The results suggest several factors that contribute to the control of anal gland marking and perhaps multiple functions for the behavior. Evidence also was found to suggest that body rubs are used to acquire odors deposited by leg lifts.