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Last Updated: Thursday July 13 2006 18:30 GMT

Meerkats learn from mums and dads

Meerkat adult and baby
Meerkats help their kids in similar ways to how our parents teach us to look after ourselves, researchers say.

Cambridge University researchers saw adult meerkats showing babies how to catch food without getting hurt.

They said the babies joined hunting groups at about 30 days old and the adults went out of their way to make sure the tots were doing it right.

Instead of just feeding them dead animals, the adults showed the babies how to handle prey including scorpions.

They were seen nudging food towards the babies using their noses or paws in a bid to encourage them.

Meerkats live in the deserts of South Africa in groups of up to 40 creatures featuring a male and female boss and a team of adult helpers, who look after the babies.

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