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Learn English: ESL Intermediate Story

The Suricate


1. The suricate is a small animal of about ten to fourteen inches that lives in the dry plains of southern Africa. It is a member of the mongoose family. Suricates live in social groups with as many as twenty-five members. As social animals, members have conventional roles to play. While some suricates relax, others serve as sentries for the group. They will give a shrill cry if they think a predator is near. 

2. When one suricate notices a shadow that could be a bird of prey, it gives the alarm, and they all run in haphazzard ways to their burrows. They dig many burrows on the plots of land where they live.

3. A suricate is a determined predator. They feed on mice, lizards, insects and larvae. Every year, female suricates give birth to two to four offspring. The babies are blind and hairless. They live in the burrow for a month before coming out.

4. Suricates do not make good domestic pets. Their have disruptive habits, such as spreading their scent around the house. Because they are group animals, they can also become very unhappy if in captivity alone. In contemporary times, many live in zoos where people can observe their burrows and the way they stand on their hind legs when serving as sentries. 


Answer the Questions (answers are at the bottom of the page):

1. Which statement is an inference, not a fact?

A. Suricates feed on mice, lizards, insects and larvae.

B. Suricates stand on their hind legs to look out for predators.

C. Most people do not like animals that spread scents in their homes.

D. Suricates live in burrows in Africa.


2. Which statement is a fact, not an opinion?

A. Suricates do well living in zoos.

B. Suricates have an interesting social system.

C. Suricates do not make good pets.

D. While some surigates relax, other serve as sentries.


3. Which details about suricates are in the story?

A. Suricates feed on mice, they are blind at birth, and  they are preyed up by eagles.

B. Suricates feed on snakes, they are preyed upon by eagles and hawks and they are blind at birth.

C. Suricates are blind at birth, they are preyed upon by eagles and hawks and they are tan in color.

D. Suricates do not make good pets, they eat lizards and they have several different types of calls.


4. Match the words with their definitions:

conventional             a. not organized

    haphazzard               b. creating trouble

               determined               c. wanting to do something

                           disruptive                 d. having to do with modern times

     contemporary           e. formal or expected

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answers: 1. c, 2. d, 3. a, 4. conventional: e, haphazzard: a, determined: c, disruptive: b, contemporary: d