The sand cat, the cutest of felines

The sand cat is found sporadically in the Sahara Desert of North Africa, across the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.

These felines rely, among other things, on their small size and color to camouflage themselves in the prairies where natural hiding places are rare. This species is less territorial than most other cats since the males share their burrows and are quite calm in nature. Sand cats are solitary and females give birth alone.

A body adapted to their environment

Sand cats are short-legged, relatively large-headed, and broad-nosed. They are well protected from the desert heat thanks to their long fur covering their pads which allow them to walk on the hot sand. Their ears are large and set low; they are able to detect ultrasound emitted by rodents but inaudible to the human ear. Indeed, carnivores, sand cats mainly eat small desert rodents such as jerboas, but also birds, lizards and invertebrates. They do not need to live permanently near a source of drinking water, as they draw the water they need from their diet.

The sand cat weighs less than a domestic cat. – Pete Gallop/Shutterstock

A dangerous life

The sand cat is hunted by many predators, including poisonous snakes, birds of prey and wolves. The man remains however the most important threat which weighs on him. Human activities reduce its territory, the presence of livestock reduces the available vegetation on which small mammals feed, while domestic dogs and cats compete with the sand cat for prey and can transmit disease to it.

The World of Animals & Nature is a quarterly magazine.
The World of Animals & Nature is a quarterly magazine. – The World of Animals n°42

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