Weight: 5-6 pounds
Head/Body: 20 inches
Tail: 12 inches
The Sand Cat is one of the more difficult cats to study in the wild. Their foot coverings allow them to walk on sand without sinking, leaving their footprints nearly invisible. They shut their eyes when a light is shone on them, which prevents the light from reflecting from their eyes making tracking difficult.
The Sand Cat lives in very hot deserts such as the Sahara, the Arabian Desert, and the deserts of Iran and Pakistan. Their paws are covered with long fur to protect them from the hot sand. Another distinctive characteristic is their large ears. They use their highly developed ears for locating the underground movements of prey at night. During the night, the sand cat goes out to hunt insects, rodents and lizards.
During the day, the sand cat hides in the shadow of rocks. It lives under extreme conditions, as the temperatures may rise to about 124șC during the day, and as low as -0.5șC during the night.
Sand cats are known for their excellent digging capabilities, which they use to dig burrows to escape the heat of the sun. They may also lie on their back outside their burrow to loose internal heat.
The Sand cat, or sand dune cat, is listed as Near Threatened (NT), and is close to qualifying for, or is likely to qualify for, a Threatened category in the near future on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.