Who said margarita does not exist in the desert? The sand cat will prove you wrong.
Felis Margarita, common name “sand cat,” is a species of wild cat that thrives in the desert, feeding on mice, rodents, birds, and even the occasional reptile, which are unfortunate enough to come within its hearing range, which is very far indeed.
Being a desert animal, the sand cat is distributed all over the world where there are large areas of deserts. That generally means Africa, especially Northern Africa, and Asia.
But there is also a subspecies of the sand cat, called the “Desert Cat” that live in hot, dry arid areas, such as the Sahara, the Arabian Desert (home of the Arabian sand cat), and the deserts of Iran and Pakistan (homes of the Iran and Pakistan sand cats respectively).
Sand cats seem to prefer to live in sand dunes. However, as with any typical self-reliant cat, the species could stand to live in rocky areas as well.
Sand cats are not aloof, wild creatures. Well, to humans maybe, but not to other animals with whom they share a certain affinity. As a matter of fact, these cats have been known to share dens with fennec foxes in some ranges. Normally, however, the sand cat lives in a burrow, which it digs itself.
Sand cats are accomplished diggers. What they lack in jumping skills, they make up for high digging skills. During the day, they dwell inside their burrows where they are sheltered from the sweltering heat of the desert sun. But at night, they come out to start the hunt.
Body length at 50 cm plus 30 cm tail, the sand cat is slightly smaller than a domestic cat. They also have shorter legs and characteristically broader heads. The ears are also larger, tapered with black pointed tips. The eyes are large and forward-placed, ranging in color from yellow through green.
The coat of the sand cat is a pale, sandy color, the better for camouflage in the mostly sandy landscape of its natural environment. In some cats, the pale coloring may contain some grayish tints especially in the upper portion along the spine.
A reddish line of fur marks the eyes as well as dark vertical lines all over its body. The lines are faded and inconspicuous in some cats. The most visible marking, apart from the ones found around the eyes and face of the sand cat, is the black bands of hair surrounding the upper front legs.
The paws of the sand cat have long hair. According to biologists, this is an adaptive feature of the cat to shield its paws from the hot ground as well as prevent the feet from sinking in the sand.
Behavior Of The Sand Cat
The sand cat displays certain behavioral patterns that are unique to the species and to its habitat. One distinctive behavior, for instance, is the nocturnal habit of this cat breed. As already mentioned, the sand cat spends its days in its burrow for practical purposes: prevent dehydration, protect itself from the heat, and hide itself from larger animals that may be possible predators.
At night, the cat crawls out of its burrow to hunt for rodents and other small mammals and reptiles. The sand cat has a very keen sense of hearing, sharper than even a domestic cat’s. It can hear the high-pitched squeaks of a rat from several kilometers away. What’s more, the ears of the sand cat are specially constructed to swivel in order to funnel sounds and pinpoint the direction from whence they came from.
Another characteristic of the sand cat is the sound it makes. Instead of the typical meow that we hear our domestic cat make, the sand cat has a large barking yell for communication. Many believe this is so because sound does not travel that well in dry air.