Sand Cats

Courtney Clements

Characteristics

According to British Broadcasting System: Science and Nature, Sand Cats vary in coloration from light yellow to gray-brown, and are known for the bold markings from their eyes to the outline of their face (5). These felines are known for their darker dashes across their entire body. They also are characterized as being good at digging but they lack agility (Animal Files 5). As said by the Encyclopedia of Life, Sand Cats have "an enlarged auditory bulla and ear flaps which give the sand cats' ears their characteristic triangular shape as well as enhanced hearing (2). What this means is that their ears are shaped specifically to help them in life. They also share the size of most domestic cats, but they have shorter legs (BBC: Science and Nature 6).


Habitat

Sand Cats are known as psammophillic animals, meaning "sand-dwelling." This means that sand cats' habitats are strictly arid, dry habitats such as deserts (Animal Diversity 4). Animal Diversity states, "They are found in desert habitats ranging from plains with little vegetation to rocky valleys with shrubs and trees" (3). This means that sand cats live in a variety of desert-based habitats. Sand cats are commonly found in the deserts of Northern Africa and Southwest and Central Asia (Hemmer et. al. 5). This species can survive in temperatures ranging from 23 degrees Fahrenheit to 126 degrees Fahrenheit. Sand cats can also survive months without water as they get most of their water from their foods (Sunquist 69).


Threats and Conservation

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, "The primary threat to sand cats include the destruction of their habitats by humans and decline of the population of prey" (3). What this means is that sand cats are at the point of "Nearly Threatened" due to humans destroying their homes and killing their food source. Sand cats are also victims of hunting for sport (Cat Survival Trust 2). Sand cat numbers are also low because people collected them to sell in pet trades where many died in captivity (Cat Survival Trust 1). Conservation motions include releasing them into protected areas. Another conservation effort has been to prohibit the hunting of them in their main countries (IUCN Red List 2).


Reproduction and Life Cycle

A sand cats' reproduction cycle lasts 5 to 6 days and consists of more scent marking and increased calling. Their normal gestation period is 59 to 66 days which ends in the birth of, on average 3 kittens. Sand cats normally birth 2 litters a year. The kittens reach about 3/4 of their adult size by 5 months and are fully independent by 1 year of age (Mellen 157-159). According to Karen Sausman, "of 228 sand cats born in zoos globally to the year 2007, only 61% lived to day 30" (79). This means that sand cat females in captivity are less likely to care for their young when dependent on humans. Sand cats live up to 13 years (Sausman 162).


Behavior

Sand cats live solitary outside of mating season. Communication includes scenting, scratch marks on plants, and using a loud bark-like sound when looking for mates (Sunquist 69). Sand cats inhabit abandoned burrows that are about 4.9 feet deep with a single entrance. They stay out in winter but are nocturnal during the hot season (Schauenberg 947). They move close to the ground and are capable of running at 19 to 25 miles per hour (Dragesco 2). As said by Abbadi, "burrows are used interchangeably by different cats" (15). This means that they are not territorial, but instead wanderers.


Works Cited

Abbadi, M. (1992). "Israel's elusive feline: sand cats". Cat News 18: 15–16.


BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.


"Felis Margarita." (Sand Cat, Sand Dune Cat). N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.


Hemmer, H., Grubb, P. and C.P. Groves. (1976). Notes on the sand cat, Felis margarita Loche 1958. Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 41: 286–303


"Sand Cat (Felis Margarita)." Sand Cat Videos, Photos and Facts. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.


Sausman, K. (1997). "Sand cat a true desert species". International Zoo Yearbook 35.


Schauenberg, P. (1974). Données nouvelles sur le Chat des sables Felis margarita Loche, 1858. [New data on the sandcat Felis margarita Loche, 1858.


Sunquist, M.; Sunquist, F. (2002). Wild cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 67–74.


"WunderPhotos® Sand Cats." Weather Wunderground. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.


"ZooBorns." 'ZooBorns' N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.