Meerkat the latest unusual arrival at Kildare Animal Foundation shelter

South African native animal rescued

Meerkat the latest unusual arrival at Kildare Animal Foundation shelter

The meerkat rescued by Kildare Animal Foundation

The cheeky meerkat is more familiar to Irish people from a popular car insurance ad — but one has recently made its home at a wildlife shelter outside of Kildare town.

Dan Donoher of Kildare Animal Foundation writes about the latest arrival to the shelter's Wildlife Unit.

In the life of animal rescue you just never know when the next call is going to come in or what it’s going to be about.

Now, we expect to get calls just about anything but when the phone rang early on a Saturday morning recently, I wasn’t expecting to hear what the man had to say.

He had discovered a meerkat... yes, you read that correctly, a meerkat!

The animal had burrowed under his house and made a home for himself. He wasn’t sure how long he had been there but was unlikely to have been too long. He had sent a short video of him to a vet in Dublin for confirmation and they said to contact our Wildlife Unit.

Over a couple of days, the man gained his trust by feeding him, and, curious by nature, the meerkat would cautiously pop out and eat, while the family watched.

The meerkat is an easy target for predators so we loaned the man a trap to see if we could trap him and take him into our care.

We also worried about him keeping warm, because he must have borrowed under the house as he knew it would be warm there.

An animal that’s more used to a sunny South African climate than a wet Irish one was clearly out of his comfort zone and time was against us!

So how did a meerkat find itself living out on its own in the midlands, one might ask? Sadly we are seeing more and more exotic species being brought into the country as pets or as attractions for varieties farms and parks.

Sometimes they are being housed incorrectly and some escape.

The lucky ones are found and recaptured but who knows how many go unfound and pass away from the cold and hunger. It’s a problem that we see getting a lot worse before it gets better.

There is no database of what exotic species are in the country or, indeed, one that someone can report to if one of their animals goes missing.

After ten days of trying, the meerkat finally went into the trap and was brought to us for care on Wednesday two weeks ago.

He is healthy although a little shaken from his adventure. He is eating well and we are feeding him on the correct meerkat diet that is recommended by the zoo.

It’s unlikely we will find the source of where he came from but he is safe now and we will do our best to place him somewhere that is suitable and with the company of his own species.

Check out our Facebook page for some videos of this adorable little guy. We would like to say thank you to the Dunne family for looking after him and making sure there was a happy outcome.

Kildare Animal Foundation, located outside Kildare town, is a voluntary organisation that provides a safe haven for neglected or abused animals. Tel: 045 522929, email or log on to All donations welcome.

Dan Donoher writes a weekly 'Pet Rescue' column in the Leinster Leader.

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