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Page last updated at 18:18 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009
Meerkat enquiries on the increase

Meerkats usually live in large groups in southern Africa

A Nottingham pet shop has had a huge increase in the number of enquiries about meerkats after the mammals were featured in a television advert.

Exotic pet expert and Beeston shop owner, John Winfield-Hunt, said they have had a lot of genuine applications in 2009.

"[We must have had] a thousand applications since the advert."

He owns a pair of captive-bred meerkats himself and warned that they do take 24 hour care.

"They are not just a pet. They get depressed if you are not around.

"They come to work with us every day. They go home with us every night. They are members of our family."

They are also expensive, costing more than £1,000 a pair.

Cute but demanding

RSPCA officer Sophie Wilkinson said so far rescue centres have not seen an increase in the numbers of meerkats being brought in to its rescue centres but warned that they are a huge responsibility and urged people to think very carefully before purchasing one.

She said: "If you really are thinking about getting meerkats, thoroughly do your research and make sure you get the proper advice when you take them on.

"Ask yourself 'do you really have the time, energy and money to care for an animal like that'."

Meerkats usually live in large groups in southern Africa where they dig huge networks of burrows to run around in.

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