Sand Cat (Felis margarita)
The Sand Cat is a small wild cats about the size of a domestic cat. They are nocturnal cats with large ears and sensitive hearing. The ears are hairy to protect them from blowing sand. The body is covered with medium length thick fur to protect it from the cold night temperatures. The fur varies from pale yellowish brown to grey. There are narrow dark brown or black stripes along the lower back and legs. The tail has narrow black bands and a black tip. The face has reddish orange markings around the eyes. The chin and chest are white. The paws have black fur on the pads to protect them from the hot desert sand and rocks.
Length: 45cm - 57cm. Weight: 1.4kg - 3.4kg
The Sand Cat is found in deserts and other very dry habitats with sparse vegetation. Also found in rocky valleys with shrubs and trees.
Sand cats are mainly carnivorous and eat small mammals, reptiles including venomous snakes, birds, insects and spiders. Their prey provides most of the fluids they need to survive in arid habitat.
The Sand Cat breeding season varies depending on region. Females give birth to four or five kittens (range one to eight) after a gestation period of 59 - 63 days. The young are independent after about 6 to 8 months and mature adults after 9 - 14 months.
Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen.
The conservation status in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals is "near threatened".
Sand Cat Felis margarita in the Twilight World zone at Bristol Zoo, England.
Photograph by Adrian Pingstone. License: Public Domain.