The desert is where one of the world’s most interesting and formidable cats lives, the Sand cat. It looks a bit like a domestic cat, though with the addition of furry paws, giant ears, and a very curious personality. These cats are small and stocky, with short legs and a tail that is relatively long. Their fur is generally a pale sandy color, usually with a white belly. Their feet are very thickly furred, which is thought to help them cope with the desert’s extreme temperatures-like wearing shoes to walk on hot asphalt.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight (that is, the periods of dawn and dusk). This is distinguished from diurnal...
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of a...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
Predators are animals that kill and eat other organisms, their prey. Predators may actively search for or pursue prey or wait for it, often conceal...
A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct ...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
The Sand cat lives in northern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and central and southwest Asia. It occurs in arid sandy and stony deserts, particularly among sparse vegetation.
Sand cats are solitary except for during the mating season. They communicate by means of claws and scent marks on objects within their range. Sand cats are not good jumpers or climbers, but are excellent diggers, and dig shallow burrows in which to avoid desert temperatures during the day. They sometimes lie outside their burrows on their backs to release internal heat. They share their burrows with other individuals, but not at the same time. Sand cats are usually nocturnal, hunting at night during the cooler times. When it gets dark they start to hunt, continuing until dawn. In one night they will sometimes travel about 10 km (over 6 miles). These cats communicate with vocalizations that sound like those of domestic cats but they also make high-pitched loud barking sounds, particularly when looking for a mate.
Sand cats are carnivores and eat rodents, birds, hares, reptiles, and even insects. They use the moisture from their prey to enable them to survive with no additional water, or very little.
Sand cats are very shy and rare, so not much is known about their mating system. Living solitary lives except during the breeding season may mean that these cats are polygynous. It seems that their hearing is important for communication during the breeding season, the timing of which depends on the location: January-April (Sahara), September- October (Pakistan), and April (Turkmenistan). After a gestation of 59-63 days, females produce 2-4 kittens, although they may bear two litters in the same year in some areas. Kittens grow fast and are nearly fully grown at five months old. They become completely independent at six to eight months of age when they already are eating some solid food. They are reproductively mature at 9-14 months old.
The primary threats to this species include the destruction of habitat by humans and the decline of their prey populations. They are also hunted for sport, and are easy targets, as they are not aggressive, and they like to sun themselves during the day on rocks. Another threat is the introduction of domestic and feral cats and dogs, which may prey upon, compete with, or transmit diseases to the Sand cat.
According to the IUCN Red List, there are relatively few records of the Sand cat, and the species is often reported as rare. The total population size of the Sand cat is conservatively estimated at 27,264 mature individuals. It is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the list of threatened species.