It’s the only representative of all felids that inhabits desert areas. The coat on the paw pads protects it against hot sand and blurs it’s marks. The cat withstands temperatures from +52 to -5 degrees Celsius.
The first feature that is noticeable in the sand cat is its cute, large ears. They are distinctively leaning forward and adding innocent charm to this sandy animal. It has such a sensitive hearing thanks to them, that it locates animals moving under the heated ground of the desert. An additional advantage of the great ears is the help with loosing heat.
It has large eyes in the set, and as contrast – a very tiny nose. Thanks to these features it always looks like kitten.
It may be surprising but sand cats have thick fur. It is so thought out by Mother Nature that in the daytime it would protect from sun with fair colour and at night from cold with thickness.
Cats are fawn or grey and their eyes are the colour of the sun or young leaves. There are sometimes stripes on the fur, mainly on the legs and the tail. From the upper, outer corner of the eyes, the darker lines always appear – perfect makeup of nature.
The sand cat has short legs and a relatively long, wide tail. Hairy paw soles hide five small and sharp claws in front legs and four short and blunt in hind. A sand cat cannot hide them completely.
Sand cats live a lonely life, but they show mutual help to each other. They dig burrows to cool themselves in the day and lend them to each other. Given shelter is not assigned to one cat, but at the same time only one can stay inside. These cats are found in arid areas of Africa and Asia.
The sand cat hunts small mammals like hares and lemmings, but also birds, reptiles and insects. It is not picky and not afraid of most venomous snakes. It eats everything that it can hunt, and it must do it often, because food is also its only source of liquids. It is not approaching the water reservoirs to avoid the danger from larger animals. Having an excess of hunted meat, it hides the food for later.
A very interesting habit of sand cats is resting in a lying position on the back, which allows them to lose heat from the body most effectively.
A sand cat is a quiet and shy animal. When a man stands in its way, the cat, lying down, tries to melt into the sand and closes its eyes so that their glow does not reveal its location. It uses its vocal cords only when it wants to extend the species line. It communicates by purring, mewing and barking in the voice of a chihuahua. It also uses aroma signals to find partner.
An interesting adaptation of the sand cat to the rare prey is the very short childhood. Even before they reach maturity, they start to live on their own. The mother takes care of kitties only for half a year, and the little ones need double that time to fully grow up.
Small sand cats are born blind, after two weeks they open their eyes, and after four they begin to explore the area.
Sand cats are threatened by snakes, owls and jackals. People also hunt for them when they have the opportunity, but this little canny creature is hiding in such extreme conditions that man does not have a good chance of survival there. However, it indirectly influences the cat’s population, destroying its environment.
Due to the conditions in which this cat resides, there is little research on its population. That is why it is considered the least concern among endangered species.
Author: Małgorzata Banaszkiewicz
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