Sand cat

These small cats are hard to observe, only emerging from their burrows to hunt under cover of darkness, when the temperature is cooler in their desert habitat.

Silence and speed are vital to catching desert rodents.

ANIMAL FACTS

These small Sand cats rely partly on their small size and colouration to hide themselves in a landscape where there is little natural cover. They are well-protected against the desert heat, with long fur covering their pads to help them to walk over the hot sand. This species is less territorial than many cats — with males actually sharing dens — and they appear to have relatively placid natures. Sand cats are solitary, and females give birth alone.

VITAL STATISTICS

Distribution: Sporadically distributed in sandy desert in the Sahara region of North Africa, through the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.

Weight: 2 – 3 kg (4.5 – 6.5 lb).

Length: 67 – 92 cm (26 – 36 in); about 25 cm (1O in) tall.

Maturity: Around 14 months.

Gestation Period: 59 – 66 days.

Breeding: Average 4-5, but can be up to 8; weaning at around 90 days.

Food: Carnivorous, feeding mainly on desert rodents such as jerboas, as well as birds, lizards and invertebrates.

Lifespan: 6 – 7 years in the wild; up to 13 in captivity

Ears

The ears are large and low-set, able to detect the ultra-sonic calls of rodents that  are inaudible to human ears.

Colouration

The coat is a sandy-brown colour, with both reddish and darker markings.

Profile

The Sand cat has a low-set body, with a broad head and a large nose.

Markings

Stripes extend back from the eyes, and there is a darker area over the back. The tail is ringed.

DANGEROUS LIVING

Various species prey on sand cats, including venomous snakes as well as birds of prey and wolves.

Gallery of Sand cat