Saturday, July 08, 2006

Sand Cats of Big Cat Rescue

The Sand Cat lives in sandy and stony deserts from the Sahara through the Middle East to Turkestan. This tiny feline is less than 12 inches tall and weighs 4 to 8 pounds. This little cat still faces the threat of being collected for the pet trade, or for being hunted for sport while they are laying out sunning themselves. The Sand Cats of Big Cat Rescue were sent to the U.S. by the Saudi government during the Gulf War to protect them from extinction. It is unknown at this time, to what extent, the war affected the Sand Cat population. Dispite their diminuative size they are very fierce and do not make good pets.

The sand cat is one of the more difficult cats to study in the wild. The feet are covered with a thick layer of wiry black hair, which insulates the footpads against extremes of heat and cold, and allows for easier movement through the sand. Their foot coverings allow them to walk on sand without sinking, leaving their paw prints nearly invisible.

They have learned to crouch down and shut their eyes when a light is shone on them, which prevents the light from reflecting their eyes for tracking. That, combined with their protective coat color, makes them blend right into their habitat. They also bury all of their excrement making it impossible to find and analyze so their diet can be studied.