FOUR new arrivals – each measuring just 7cm – have arrived at the Raptor Foundation at Woodhurst.

Mitch and Hazel Price, owners of The Animal Experience, had, until recently, kept four meerkats – Itchy, Scratchy, Lord and Lady – in a specially adapted room at their home in Cambridge.

But after Itchy was ostracised by the pack, the Prices needed more space to re-home him and introduce him to some female company. It was then they approached The Raptor Foundation and relocated the meerkats to Woodhurst.

“We had three boys and a girl, and for some reason one of the boys got chucked out of the group,” Mrs Price said. “We kept him at home and introduced him to two other girls.

“We then took the other three to the Raptor Foundation and they lived together happily and began to breed.” The result was a surprising four healthy meerkat babies who arrived last week. The brood have yet to be named as it takes two weeks to identify their gender.

“Usually you expect meerkats to produce about two or three babies,” Mrs Price added, “but four is very unusual.”

The Prices hope to expand their meerkat family to 10, but have mixed feelings about the impact of the television adverts which have popularised the mammals.

“They’ve been good in that they have introduced people to meerkats and given them a lot of good publicity,” daughter Kayleigh Price added. “But the downside is that people now want them as pets and they can go for £800 to £1,000 each.”

Kayleigh explained that by their very nature meerkats need to be kept in large groups. “They’re not suitable pets,” she added. “They love company, enjoy chattering to each other and like to huddle together at night.”

INFORMATION: For the Animal Experience call 01223 526221, 07717 223660 or visit www.animalexperience.org. For The Raptor Foundation visit www. raptorfoundation.org.uk