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Family Portrait

Family Portrait
Photo Information
Copyright: Thijs van Balen jr (Pentaxfriend) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 514 W: 24 N: 1888] (8048)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-10-11
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Pentax K10D, Sigma 400mm/ 5.6 APO Tele Macro, Digital ISO 200, 77mm Tokina ATX MC Skylight 1b
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/125 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Pankaj Bajpai's Favorite Part 2 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-10-17 18:29
Viewed: 5447
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 41
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Herpestidae
Genus: Suricata (Desmarest, 1804)
Species: S. suricatta
Binomial name: Suricata suricatta

The meerkat or suricate Suricata suricatta is a small mammal and a member of the mongoose family. It inhabits all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and South Africa. A group of meerkats is called a "mob", "gang", or "clan". The clan can grow to be up to 20 meerkats at a time, or more. Meerkats have an average life span of 12-14 years.

"Meerkat" is an English loan word from Afrikaans. The name came from Dutch but by misidentification. Dutch meerkat and German Meerkatze mean "guenon", a monkey of the Cercopithecus genus. The word "meerkat" looks like Dutch for "lake cat", but the suricata is not in the cat family, and neither suricatas nor guenons are attracted to lakes; the word possibly started as a Dutch adaptation of a derivative of Sanskrit markaţa मर्कट = "monkey", perhaps in Africa via an Indian sailor onboard a Dutch East India Company ship. The traders of the Dutch East India Company were likely familiar with monkeys, but the Dutch settlers attached the name to the wrong animal at the Cape. The suricata is called stokstaartje = "little stick-tail" in Dutch and Erdmännchen = "little earth-man" in German.

According to African popular belief (mainly in the Zambian/Zimbabwean region), the meerkat is also known as the sun angel, as it protects villages from the moon devil or the werewolf which is believed to attack stray cattle or lone tribesmen.

The meerkat is a small diurnal herpestid (mongoose) weighing on average about 731 grams (1.61 pounds) for males and 720 grams (1.58 pounds) for females. Its long slender body and limbs give it a body length of 12 to 35 in (1 to 2 feet) and an added tail length of 17 to 25 cm (7 to 10 inches). Its tail is not bushy like all other mongoose species, but is rather long and thin and tapers to a black or reddish colored pointed tip. The meerkat uses its tail to balance when standing upright. Its face tapers, coming to a point at the nose, which is brown. The eyes always have black patches around them, which help deflect the sun's glare. The meerkat has small black crescent-shaped ears that can close when digging to keep sand out. Like cats, meerkats have binocular vision, a large peripheral range, depth perception, and eyes on the front of their faces.

At the end of each of a meerkat's "fingers" is a non-retractable, strong, 2 cm (0.8 inches) long, curved claw used for digging underground burrows and digging for prey. Claws are also used with muscular hindlegs to help climb the occasional tree. They have four toes on each foot and long slender limbs. The coat is usually fawn-colored peppered with gray, tan, or brown with a silver tint. They have short parallel stripes across their backs, extending from the base of the tail to the shoulders. The patterns of stripes are unique to each meerkat. The underside of the meerkat has no markings but the belly has a patch which is only sparsely covered with hair and shows the black skin underneath. The meerkat uses this area to absorb heat while standing on its rear legs, usually early in the morning after cold desert nights.


This shot has been taken at
Safaripark Beekse Bergen

MMM, wuta, hester, Tamrock has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

hello thijs,
excellent shot, liked the way they are looking at the same direction, well composed shot, nice pov, good lighting,
well done,
tfs & regards

  • Great 
  • Arjun Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 358 W: 7 N: 1237] (7593)
  • [2007-10-17 22:21]

hi thijs,
xcellent family picture.well done.great details.

Hola Thyjs,
no se como has podido conseguir esa toma, sea como fuere, una auténtica delicia , ya no solo por el trabajo que supongo que te costaría reunir a los cinco, sino por la calidad técnica de la toma.

Saludos: J. Ignasi

  • Great 
  • jesst Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 368 W: 0 N: 172] (2441)
  • [2007-10-18 0:23]

They are so funny... I like your shoto and your small models. Good detail and sharp, nice composition.

Hello Thijs! Wonderful family. Congratulations. Best regard!

I love these animals...thanks for a wonderful shot

Hello Thijs,

Very nice shot of this family,you've well captured theyre expressions!

Nice light and neatness, good compo



  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2007-10-18 6:52]

Hello Thijs
Beautiful capture.Your image is very sharp whit excellent details,Excellent POV and DOV.Colors are also very nice.It look like if they were posing for you.
TFS Michel

Hallo Thijs,

Great picture of these cute guys. looks like you did not have sunlight and therefore you did very well. Great composition.


  • Great 
  • wuta Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 855 W: 2 N: 617] (2142)
  • [2007-10-18 11:01]

Hoi Thijs , Dit is een prachtige foto ,een beauty van een compositie ,ze zijn zo leuk die beestjes , mooie kleuren bg en framing , Groeten Teunie .

  • Great 
  • pvb Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 385 W: 16 N: 531] (1981)
  • [2007-10-18 12:28]

Hi Thijs,
Deze zijn lief, één van René's favoriete dieren. Mooie pose van de stokstaartjes, wat was er zo interessant?
Mooie achtergrond en goed scherp etc.

  • Great 
  • hester Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1515 W: 18 N: 3165] (11638)
  • [2007-10-19 10:04]

Lol great shot. I love the way you have caught them looking in the same direction. Great timing and very well framed. Good exposure, excellent DOF and nicely sharp



Hi Thijs,
very nice shot of the cute and curious meercaks, they always looks funny.
Good sharpness, well composed and good POV.
Well done.

Mooi familieportret van deze stokstaartjes, lekker scherp en een perfecte dof.

Hello Thijs,
I really wonder what they laid their eyes on..?!!
Beautiful group portrait, amazing details in the fur coats...
Lovely light & colours, could be studio work!
Pablo -

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2007-10-22 9:49]

Hahaha ! Well done Thijs ! A great image, very funny with great technical qualities ! Perfectly composed scene, great moment. Good work, thanks.


hi thijs!
what a nice family!
fine picture with good
quality and nice with
all of them watching
to the direction!
well done!

Ho Ho Ho,
This is is a class picture. The colors and the details are amazing. i love the exposure and the mood in this picture.
Goutham R

Hi Thijs,
Fantastic photo,congratulation.
Best regards,

very nice image.....expressions of the meerkat family well caught ...

This is so adorable, like you paid them to pose for you. Great focus, framing and DOF. I like the fur around the edges. This photo makes me smile! Thanks

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