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Weasel vs. Meerkat: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 4, 2023
Weasels are small carnivorous mammals found globally, known for their slender bodies and hunting skills. Meerkats are social mongoose species native to the arid regions of southern Africa, recognized for their upright posture.

Key Differences

Weasels are part of the Mustelidae family, which includes otters, ferrets, and badgers. These creatures can be found in various regions around the world and have earned a reputation for their cunning and relentless hunting tactics. Meerkats, on the other hand, belong to the Herpestidae family, more specifically, the mongoose family. Unlike weasels, meerkats are restricted to the southern parts of Africa.
Weasels are recognized for their elongated, slender bodies, and sharp teeth that aid in their predatory lifestyle. They primarily feed on small rodents and are known to be adept hunters, often hunting prey larger than themselves. Meerkats have a more upright and stout appearance, with a strong communal behavior. They primarily consume insects, though their diet can be diverse, including small rodents and birds.
The habitats of weasels and meerkats vary significantly. While weasels can adapt to various environments, including woodlands, grasslands, and even urban areas, meerkats are suited for the dry, open terrains of the Kalahari and Namib Deserts. Their burrowing nature helps them cope with the scorching temperatures of their habitat.
Social structures differ starkly between weasels and meerkats. While weasels are typically solitary, only coming together during mating seasons, meerkats live in structured clans or mobs, often consisting of multiple family groups. This social cohesion is vital for their survival, as they take turns watching for predators, foraging, and babysitting the young.
Both weasels and meerkats are captivating in their ways. Weasels, with their stealthy hunting skills, and meerkats, with their intricate social behaviors and sentry stance, showcase the diverse and fascinating world of small carnivorous mammals.

Comparison Chart


Herpestidae (Mongoose)


Global, various regions
Southern Africa

Typical Diet

Small rodents
Primarily insects

Social Behavior

Live in clans or mobs


Woodlands, grasslands, urban
Dry, open terrains

Weasel and Meerkat Definitions


A small, elongated carnivorous mammal known for hunting skills.
The weasel stealthily approached its prey.


A creature famous for its "sentry" behavior.
While others foraged, one meerkat remained on the lookout.


To achieve something through cunning or deceit.
He tried to weasel out of the responsibility.


An animal adapted to desert life with a diverse diet.
The meerkat munched on a beetle, supplementing its diet.


A person characterized by sneaky or deceitful behavior.
He's a weasel, never trust him with secrets.


A burrowing animal native to arid regions in southern Africa.
The meerkat dug a burrow to escape the midday heat.


To extricate oneself from a situation using sly tactics.
She managed to weasel her way out of the assignment.


A small African mongoose known for its upright posture and social behavior.
The meerkat stood tall, scanning the horizon for predators.


A colloquial term for various species in the genus Mustela.
That weasel has been causing trouble in the barn.


A member of a structured clan or mob in the animal kingdom.
The meerkat clan worked together to protect their young.


Any of various carnivorous mammals of the genus Mustela, having a long slender body, a long tail, short legs, and brownish fur that in many species turns white in winter.


A small burrowing mongoose (Suricata suricatta) of southern Africa, having brownish-gray fur and a long tail, which it uses for balance when it stands on its hind legs. Also called suricate.


A person regarded as sneaky or treacherous.


Suricata suricatta, a small carnivorous mammal of the mongoose family, from the Kalahari Desert, known for its habit of standing on its hind legs.


To be evasive; equivocate.


A South African carnivore (Suricata suricata, formerly Cynictis penicillata), allied to the ichneumons, having a lemurlike face and only four toes; called also yellow mongoose and suricate.
While his compatrioits scuffle about in the sand for delicious scorpions or fat, tasty mice, one meerkat stands alone, bolt upright on an exposed perch, scanning for hawks with dark eyes wide, ready to call out at the first sign of danger. Like other such guards in the animal kingdom, these endearingly vulnerable meerkat sentinels have long impressed biologists as true altruists - creatures willing to forgo food and brave danger to protect others. Now a study in the current Science suggests that these beasts may not be such adorable heroes after all. Researchers have discovered that meerkats abandon their hunting to act as guards only when their bellies are good and full. And they appear to do so, not as an act of noble daring, but because by being the first to see a predator, they can be sure of being the first down a hole and out of harm's way. Standing guard, researchers concluded, may be the safest thing to do once a meerkat has had enough to eat. . . . Even the adorable meerkat may yet redeem itself as a bit of an altruist. Although being a sentinel may itself not entail great risk, it is hard to imagine a selfish reason for their giving a shout of warning before dashing for cover. . . .


The least weasel, Mustela nivalis.


A mongoose-like viverrine of South Africa having a face like a lemur and only four toes


Any of the carnivorous mammals of the genus Mustela, having a slender body, a long tail and usually a light brown upper coat and light-coloured belly.


The taxonomic family Mustelidae is also called the weasel family.


A devious or sneaky person or animal.


A type of yarn winder used for counting the yardage of handspun yarn. It most commonly has a wooden peg or dowel that pops up from the gearing mechanism after a certain number of yards have been wound onto the winder.


(transitive) To achieve by clever or devious means.


To gain something for oneself by clever or devious means.


(intransitive) To engage in clever or devious behavior.


Any one of various species of small carnivores belonging to the genus Putorius, as the ermine and ferret. They have a slender, elongated body, and are noted for the quickness of their movements and for their bloodthirsty habit in destroying poultry, rats, etc. The ermine and some other species are brown in summer, and turn white in winter; others are brown at all seasons.


Small carnivorous mammal with short legs and elongated body and neck


Where are weasels commonly found?

Weasels are found in various regions globally.

What family does the meerkat belong to?

Meerkats belong to the Herpestidae or mongoose family.

Do weasels have a specific habitat preference?

Weasels are adaptable and can live in woodlands, grasslands, and urban areas.

Are meerkats carnivorous?

Yes, but they primarily consume insects, supplemented with small animals.

Is the weasel a solitary creature?

Yes, weasels are typically solitary, except during mating seasons.

Where can one typically spot a meerkat?

Meerkats are native to the arid regions of southern Africa.

What's the lifespan of a weasel?

Depending on the species, weasels can live between 3 to 5 years in the wild.

Are meerkats diurnal?

Yes, meerkats are active during the day.

What's the significance of a meerkat's tail?

The tail helps them balance when standing upright and serves as a signal during group activities.

Do weasels climb trees?

Yes, many weasel species are adept climbers.

Are meerkats endangered?

No, but their habitat and numbers are affected by human activities.

How do meerkats protect themselves from predators?

They have "sentries" that stand guard while the others forage or play.

What's distinctive about meerkat social structure?

Meerkats live in structured clans or mobs, showcasing intricate social behaviors.

How do weasels hunt?

Weasels are adept hunters, often tackling prey larger than themselves.

Do weasels hibernate?

Some species, like the European weasel, do not hibernate, but their activity reduces in winter.

What do weasels eat?

Weasels primarily eat small rodents, but they can also consume birds and insects.

How do meerkats cope with desert temperatures?

They dig burrows to escape the heat and stay cool.

Are there different species of weasels?

Yes, there are several species, including the least weasel and the short-tailed weasel.

What is the size of a typical weasel?

Depending on the species, weasels can range from 5 to 18 inches in length.

How do meerkats communicate?

They use a variety of vocalizations to coordinate activities and warn of danger.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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