A DESERT DWELLING FELINE
A quick note before we get to this week's post. The purpose of my posts is to bring focus to some of the world's unusual and oft times endangered animals. I offer a brief overview of the animal, its status in the wild, if known, and provide links for my readers if they would like to have more detail. You will also see that I capitalize the name of the animal of the week. The subject animals are important to me on many levels, and although they don't have names like people do, I show their species respect by capitalizing. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog and for sharing. Feel free to leave a comment.
This week we’re going to take a look at the smallest of all the wild cats. It’s called a Sand Cat (Felis Margarita). As its name implies, the Sand Cat’s scattered populations live in the deserts of Arabia, areas of Northern Africa, the west Caspian Sea and even into Iran. It is the only species of cat that lives in a desert environment.
The Sand Cat can grow to a length of about twenty inches, and can weigh up to eight pounds. It has a pale coat, which camouflages it in the desert, and the long dense hair on the soles of its feet protect it from the hot desert sand. The dense fur on the bottom of its feet also enables it to walk on sand without sinking in or even leaving much of a paw print.
Their eyes and ears are forward facing. This helps them to both see and hear in their environment. They can even hear prey underground. It has been said that their wide face, eyes and ears act like a radar dish.
Although the Sand Cat will drink water when it is available, in extreme conditions, this unusual feline can obtain all of its water from the food it eats. Primarily nocturnal hunters, Sand Cats are known for eating snakes, small rodents, insects and birds.
During the day, the cats dig a burrow in a sand dune, or beneath a shrub in order to keep cool. Their very thick coat helps to insulate them from the environment, which changes from exceedingly hot during the day, to very cool during the overnight hours.
The IUCN* indicates that the Sand Cat is ‘near threatened.’ I have, however, read on a number of sites that their numbers are unknown and that it is considered endangered. In any case, this marvelous creature is indeed in danger due to habitat degradation. Human encroachment has caused the populations to be scattered. It has also been hunted for sport and makes an easy target. Its populations were severely depleted in the 1960s when it entered the pet trade. Many ‘pet’ Sand Cats have died in captivity.
As usual, I have a wonderful video for you. A young girl narrates this video, and although she speaks a bit quickly, she provides a great deal of information about our friend the Sand Cat.
My sincere thanks to arkive.org for some of the information and pictures. If you would like to learn more about this unusual feline, you can visit the following sites.
*IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature
Please return next week for a look at another unusual animal.
Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
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