- HB Length: 39-52 cm (15-20″)
- Tail Length: 23-31 cm (9-12″)
- Height: 24-30 cm (10-12″)
- Weight: 1.3-3.4 kg (3-7.5 lbs)
- Pop. Trend: Unknown
The Sand Cat Felis margarita is a true desert dweller and are the only felid to occur exclusively in desert habitat. They have numerous adaptations to an arid life and colouring that blends in with their environment.
The coat is soft and dense, mostly pale sandy brown to light grey, slightly darker on the back and whitish on the belly. A reddish streak runs across each cheek from the outer corner of the eyes; the lower half of the face and chest is whitish to pale yellow. The tawny reddish ears are black tipped, as is the tail, which also has a few narrow black rings near the tip. The broad head has large eyes placed greatly forward, and low set, large, tapered ears which provide keen hearing for habitat where prey is scarce.
There are pale cross stripes running down the flanks, almost invisible until the legs are stretched out, and indistinct bars on the limbs. Another desert adaptation is the long, dense, hairs covering the soles of the feet, providing insulation from the hot sands and helping them move across shifting surfaces. They have evolved a thick coat which insulates them from the alternating intense heat and cold of a desert environment.
Sand cats occur across the Sahara Desert, from Morocco in the west to as far as Egypt and the Sudan in the east. In Asia, they have been recorded in Syria, Iran, east of the Caspian Sea in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Their presence in Pakistan is unknown. Sand Cats show a scattered distribution across the Arabian Peninsula but their status and distribution are not well known.
The global distribution of the Sand Cat appears to be markedly patchy. It is not clear whether the gaps in known range are due to a lack of records or truly reflect species absence.
As true desert specialists, they occupy areas that receive less than 20 mm of rainfall a year. They inhabit a variety of sandy and stony desert habitats with some cover, and arid shrub-covered steppes.
The first radio telemetry study on these little cats (1993) was in Israel, where biologists discovered they were extremely difficult to track. The fur on the soles of their feet that prevents them from sinking in soft sand also makes their tracks almost invisible. When a light is trained on them, they crouch low, closing their eyes so that no reflection is visible. This behaviour, along with their excellent protective colouring, compounds the problem. The cats also buried all their feces, making it impossible to gather data about their diet.
Home range sizes likely vary according to ecological conditions and vegetation cover available for prey animals. In a study along a dirt road in southern Morocco, initial home ranges of two males and one female followed during four to six days were 35.3 km², 21.8 km² and 13.4 km², respectively. A radio telemetry study in Israel suggests large home ranges, with one male using an area of 16 km². Seven annual ranges in Saudi Arabia, were estimated at 19.6-50.7 km² .
Sand Cats have been recorded to move long distances in a single night. In Morocco, one male travelled more than 14 km in a straight line in less than 30 hours.
Sand Cats are prolific diggers. Digging is necessary to construct and improve burrows, and dig rodents out of the sand. Their claws do not fully retract and are not very sharp, as there is little opportunity to sharpen them in the desert and they are likely blunted by digging.
When crossing open spaces they keep low, skulking on bent legs. The low set ears enable stalking among rocks with a minimum of exposure. Because the hot dry air of the desert absorbs sound, large ears are required to pick up the faint squeaks of their prey. Their prey provides most of their moisture requirements, as they inhabit generally waterless regions. They will drink water if it is available but can survive on the moisture received from their prey. Enemies include venomous snakes, jackals and large owls.
In the Sahara they are known as ‘the cat that digs holes.’ Among Saharan nomads, Sand Cats have a reputation for being snake hunters, particularly of horned and sand vipers, which they stun with rapid blows to the head before dispatching with a neck bite. They also cover large kills with sand and return later to feed.
Primarily a nocturnal animal, they spend the hot daylight hours in a shallow burrow dug into a dune or beneath a shrub. They use and enlarge burrows of other species, as well as digging their own. They have occasionally been observed above ground in daylight near their burrows, lying on their backs in a posture to shed internal heat. Dens are used by different individuals, but not at the same time. At nightfall, they take up a lookout position at their den opening, and survey the surrounding area for about 15 minutes before leaving. They are active throughout the night, hunting and travelling 5-10 km. Before retiring below ground at dawn, the same lookout position is adopted at the mouth of the burrow.
Sand Cats are solitary animals with a very low population, and make use of a loud mating call, much like the barking of a small dog. The loud barking, combined with excellent hearing, enables these cats to find each other over great distances. Other vocalizations include mewling, growling, spitting, hissing, screaming and purring much as in domestic cats. Grooming and defense behaviour is also similar to domestic felines.
Breeding in the wild is seasonal with births born January-April. After a 60 – 67 day gestation, one to eight – usually 3-4 – kittens are born annually in a burrow or among rocks. Weight at birth is 50 – 60 grams. At two weeks their eyes open, they first venture outside at three to four weeks, and eat their first solid food at five weeks. They become independent at three to four months, and sexual maturity is reached at about 9 – 14 months. They have lived to 18 years of age in captivity.
Habitat degradation and loss are considered to be the major threats to the Sand Cat. Vulnerable arid ecosystems are being rapidly converted by human settlement and activity, especially degraded through livestock grazing. Additional threats are the introduction of feral and domestic dogs and cats, creating direct competition for prey, predation and disease transmission. This applies particularly along roads through suitable habitat.
In Iran, Sand Cats are killed by shepherd dogs and trapped in snares set for other species. They also get stuck in fences and are vulnerable to indiscriminate trapping and poisoning of predators.
In the Arabian Peninsula, sand dune habitat continues to decline. Several of the areas have been affected by political strife, and war-like conditions that have accelerated habitat destruction i.e. Syria.
Locally, Sand Cats may be threatened by the pet trade. There are occasional reports of Sand Cats being shot in Saudi Arabia.
In Algeria, they are not considered a threat to poultry, or trapped to sell as pets. Toubou nomads living northwest of Lake Chad consider Sand Cats frequent chicken thieves which readily enter their camp in the evenings. They do not generally retaliate, due to traditional religious respect for these small cats as tradition holds that they were the companions of the Prophet Mohammed and his daughter.
The development of reliable survey methods is urgently needed to assess the population. Furthermore, studies on the behaviour and ecology of the Sand Cat are crucial to apply appropriate conservation measures.
Range Map IUCN Red List (2016)
People complain that children are not challenged enough in school - but this confuddling maths question contradicts that school of thought entirely.
Year five pupils at a primary school in Glossop, Derbyshire, were left as stumped as their parents by a question which asked them to 'calculate the perimeter of these composite rectilinear shapes'.
One dad, 43, was so baffled that he turned to social media, appealing for help in solving the question.
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The maths puzzle was given to year five pupils at a school in Glossop, Derbyshire
As the Manchester Evening News reported, he wrote on Facebook: 'My son’s grandma had spent a while helping him with his homework and most of it was straightforward but this one question left her stumped.
'I then spent an hour or so trying to work it out but found it impossible.
'I really do think it is impossible and it is certainly not something a ten-year-old can answer.'
On social media, many have claimed that the answer is 44cm for both - but not everyone is in agreement.
It seems as though every day there is a new brainteaser confuddling the web - and the latest one may be the trickiest yet.
Hidden within this agricultural-themed cartoon, six different words are carefully concealed among the farmers, plants and vegetables.
But how quickly are you able to spot them all?
Hidden within this idyllic garden scene, six different words are carefully concealed among the farmers, plants and vegetables
Created by Playbuzz, this colourful quiz is far trickier than it looks.
After a few minutes of dissecting the drawing, some words, for example 'garden', are spotted relatively easily.
However, a couple - particularly 'vine' and 'bloom' - can take a lot longer to find.
After a few minutes of dissecting the drawing, some words, for example 'garden', are spotted relatively easily. However, a couple - particularly 'vine' and 'bloom' - can take a lot longer to find
One week ago yet another brain teaser frustrated the web.
Hidden within a grid of coloured dots is a similarly-coloured letter of the alphabet.
It sounds simple enough, but the letters are harder to spot than you may expect.
Can you spot the letter hidden within this grid of pink dots? The choice is offered below to help decide
Created by Playbuzz, the puzzle has nine stages, each stage a different colour theme, including pink, yellow, green and purple.
Quizzers are given a choice of four letters and they have to spot the letter contained within the dots.
However, some colours are easier to distinguish than others.
As the challenge goes on it becomes increasingly difficult to spot the letters that blend almost seamlessly with their backgrounds.
Created by Playbuzz, the puzzle has seven stages, each stage a different colour theme, including pink, yellow (pictured), green and purple
Playbuzz users took to Facebook to discuss how they solved the puzzle.
Loralee Severin Emme wrote: 'Highly imaginative... I think I was imagining some of the numbers, but I passed. I am not sure what that really proves but I passed.
And Barbara Anderson added: 'Had problems with the blue dots.'
Chris Ralko joked: 'I passed,...."with flying colors..."
Scott Huish admitted: 'I got all of them right but I was just guessing on most of them.'
While Judy Bradley said: 'Got them all, but really had to work to see them.'
If you manage to find all the letters, the congratulatory message from Playbuzz reads as follows: 'That was AMAZING!
'Not only did you pass, the fact that you were able to see all the letters across the spectrum proves that you have incredible vision and a particularly trained eye.
'This means that you can see better than the average person, and live in a more colorful, vivid world.'
And it's revealed: Did you spot the pink 'F' outline within the sea of red dots?
Created by Playbuzz , the puzzle has nine stages, each stage a different colour theme, including pink, yellow (pictured), green and purple
Quizzers are given a choice of four letters and they have to spot the letter contained within the dots
However, some colours are easier to dissect than others. Barbara Anderson wrote: 'Had problems with the blue dots' (pictured)
Loralee Severin Emme wrote: 'Highly imaginative... I think I was imagining some of the numbers, but I passed. I am not sure what that really proves but I passed'
She added: 'I got all of them right whoop whoop I can live in a colorful world, yay'
If you manage to find all the letters, the congratulatory message from Playbuzz reads as follows: 'That was AMAZING! Not only did you pass, the fact that you were able to see all the letters across the spectrum proves that you have incredible vision and a particularly trained eye'
The message goes on: 'This means that you can see better than the average person, and live in a more colorful, vivid world'
The letter X is barely visible amongst the other green dots in this final test
Earlier this week, another puzzle swept the internet, with many trying to solve it using advanced mathematics then kicking themselves when they realised the real solution.
Antley Lamont Staten posted this brainteaser on Facebook, which has been shared more than 370,000 times.
The puzzle shows a grid of nine numbers and a sign next to it asking people to share the image when they find the error.
Yet another puzzle is sweeping the internet, this time boggling the minds of everybody with its deceptively simple answer, above
Lots of people have been trying but failing to solve what they think is a mathematical equation on the right side.
One wrote: 'It' s 4 and 5. 3 + 6=9 2+5=7 not 8 and 1+4=5 not 7. That's how I looked at it.'
However, the answer is that 'mitsake' is spelled wrong.
Theodore O'Connell II wrote: 'This is funny. Most people will pay more attention to the numbers and not the spelling of the sign.'
Pat Ireland said: 'Just shows that it's true - most of us only see the first and last letter of a word.'
Many have been trying to solve the riddle with advanced mathematics, but were probably left kicking themselves when they realised the real solution. The answer is that 'mitsake' is spelled wrong
It comes after another very tricky puzzle challenged the internet to find a gherkin hidden among a whole host of burger ingredients.
The brainteaser features a solitary gherkin mixed in with beef burgers, fries and other tasty-looking garnishes.
The challenge is made even more difficult because of all the other green items featured, including salad leaves, cucumber and avocado slices.
The brainteaser features a solitary gherkin mixed in with beef burgers, fries and other tasty-looking garnishes
The visual puzzle was created by illustrator Sally-Ann Heron for food delivery service Deliveroo.
The 25-year-old said: 'I kept forgetting where it was myself, while I was drawing it. I was really hungry by the time I'd finished it.'
The gherkin is actually hidden towards the bottom left of the image, behind an onion ring and a beef burger.
It's not the only food-themed puzzle to have internet users scratching their heads in recent weeks.
The gherkin is actually hidden towards the bottom left of the image, behind an onion ring and a beef burger
In April, popular high street bakers Greggs posted a pasty puzzle that showed a lone cheese and onion bake in a pile of steak slices.
The brainteaser was inspired by the Where's Wally-style puzzles challenging people to spot animals amongst throngs of creatures that have been sweeping the net in recent months.
For those not familiar with the baker's offerings, picking out the pasty proved difficult.
This optical illusion has had pasty lovers scratching their heads - and rubbing their stomachs
The eagle-eyed spotted that the difference lies in the patterns of the pasties.
While the steak bakes feature diagonal lines, the cheese and onion bake is scored with a V-shaped design.
The lone cheese and onion bake is hidden at the bottom right corner of the puzzle.
The cheese and onion bake is tucked away in the bottom right hand corner (circled in red)
Optical illusions have also been messing with people's heads, playing with the way that the brain processes colour.
This psychedelic pattern appears to show green, blue and pink swirls - but not all is as it seems.
The blue and green spirals are actually exactly the same bright green colour, as shown by a close-up picture.
If you test it out yourself on Photoshop, you will find the colour's RBG code is R=0, G=255, B=150.
The optical illusion was created by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a Japanese professor of psychology.
Most of us think the spirals are blue and green because of the Munker Illusion. Simply put, our brains process an object's colour based on what's next to it.
It is not the only optical illusions that has been taking the internet by storm in recent weeks.
The geniuses at Playbuzz have challenged brain teaser boffs to see if they can solve four colour-based puzzles.
The second puzzle shows a list of colours, written in five different colours. The words do not correspond with the colour they are written in, for example 'green' is written in blue
But all is not what it seems and, as the creators say, 'only the keenest eyes can pass!'.
The first optical illusion shows 12 coloured squares.
Participants are asked how many different colours they can see - excluding white.
They are asked to solve the challenge in fewer than seven seconds.
The second puzzle shows a list of colours, written in five different colours.
The words do not correspond with the colour they are written in, for example 'green' is written in blue.
Participants are asked how many colours are named, and have to solve the challenge within nine seconds - which is far less straightforward than it seems.
The big reveal: Participants are asked how many colours are named, and have to solve the challenge within nine seconds
In the third puzzle, brain teaser boffs are given an image of 25 black squares, with a white space between them - and asked how many colours they can see
In the third puzzle, brain teaser boffs are given an image of 25 black squares, with a white space between them - and asked how many colours they can see.
Some challengers may see grey marks at the intersections between the squares.
However, the grey is an optical illusion and the only colours there are black and white.
Some challengers may see grey marks at the intersections between the squares
The task in the fourth and final puzzle seems simple enough - to ascertain which orange dot is bigger
The task in the fourth and final puzzle seems simple enough - to ascertain which orange dot is bigger.
At a first glance, it appears as though the dot on the right-hand-side is larger than the one on the left.
However, this brain teaser is all about perspective and in fact the dots are exactly the same size.
At a first glance, it appears as though the dot on the right-hand-side is larger than the one on the left. However, this brain teaser is all about perspective and in fact the dots are exactly the same size
This is the latest brain-teaser taking the internet by storm, inviting people to take on the challenge in fewer than five seconds
In a brain teaser released by Playbuzz earlier this month, internet users were challenged to see if they could spot what was wrong in this sentence and colourful list of numbers above - in fewer than five seconds.
Reading both text and numbers at a quick pace can result in skipping bits out - which many people who failed to spot the mistake have fallen foul of here.
The numbers, which are in colour, attract the eye and the reader may automatically find themselves checking those for a mistake.
In fact, the error is hidden in the text informing you that there is a mistake to spot.
The results, circled in red, show that the mistake is the fact that the word 'the' has been written twice
Those with a keen eye for detail, and practised in the art of speed-reading, will have noticed that the word 'the' is written twice.
The puzzle is a slight detour from the current trend of Where's Wally-style quizzes.
Another puzzle saw an artist hide a panda's face among a herd of elephants - which was surprisingly tricky to spot.
The illustration sees dozens of elephants' heads in shades of brown, yellow, grey and white.
However the black ink used to outline their eyes and ears mean that the monochrome panda (second from right, seventh row from the bottom) is all but camouflaged.
It was created by Matthew Merrill from Fresno, California, who is fast becoming known for his head-scratching puzzles.
In the latest Where's Wally-style puzzle, created by California-based artist Matthew Merrill, a panda's face has been buried among a herd of colourful elephants - and it's proving surprisingly tricky to spot
His last creation that swept the internet saw a panda hidden among hundreds of dogs, with a few wearing bows and others with long shaggy hair, making them even more difficult to differentiate between.
Among the dogs is a cheeky-looking panda. But the black and white creature shares several similarities with its fellow hounds including jaunty ears and a black nose.
With every breed represented - and a few mutts as well - it's quite a challenge to spot the bear hiding amid the giant pack of dogs.
The illustration sees dozens of elephants' heads in shades of brown, yellow, grey and white. However the black ink used to outline their eyes and ears mean that the monochrome panda (circled) is all but camouflaged
But if you look closely you'll see it sandwiched to the middle of the right-hand side of the drawing.
The animal is far less easy to spot than the corgis pictured with giant ears, or the white hound with its hair in a pink bow.
Once you've spotted the bear, you can then see how long it takes you to find the various breeds featured.
There's a Hungarian Puli - the dreadlocked pooch owned by Mark Zuckerberg - as well as a Labrador, husky, shar pei, mastiff, doberman, a schnauzer, spaniel, pointer, great Dane, chihuahua and poodle.
The illustration, created by Matthew Merrill from California, features a number of different coloured and sized dogs, with a few wearing bows and others with long shaggy hair, making them even more difficult to differentiate between
The black and white creature is sandwiched between various pooches in the middle of the right hand side of the drawing
An Imgur user has paid tribute to the Queen on her 90th birthday by challenging the internet to spot 90 pictures of her face in this portrait
But the teaser proved a little too easy for the web's taste, with some commenters saying it took them a mere two seconds to find the panda.
One wrote: 'In an instant,' to describe the length of time it took her to find the animal.
Meanwhile, someone with a sense of humour has taken inspiration from the trend to create an image with lots of extra Queen's heads.
The practical joker shared the hilarious image on his account with the message, 'Happy 90th birthday Queen Liz!' before asking his followers 'Can you spot all 90 Queen's heads?'
The image which has been viewed over 44,000 times sees the monarch hidden in the furniture, carpet and wallpaper of the palace.
Each of the royals' faces has been replaced with that of Her Majesty and in a rather creepy twist her face even appears on various body parts including her own knees and Charles' finger nails.
Look closely at buttons on the royals' clothing, the Queen's jewellery and the moulding on the walls to spy other faces.
Those who do manage to seek out all 90 photos of the Queen may notice a 91st face in the picture peering over the right elbow of Prince Charles.
Bizarrely Samuel has chosen to Photoshop in an additional photograph of singer-songwriter Iggy Pop, for reasons unexplained.
A closer view of the doctored image shows the Queen's face on furniture, on the gold decoration on the wall and peeping out from behind the sofa and chair
Recently, puzzlers were challenged to find a hidden picture inside a red circle.
The brain teaser was said to test the internet's vision with people able to see everything from a detailed image to just an outline, while others struggled to spot anything at all. Try the test below.
While some claimed they could see the whole image in perfect detail, others were left scratching their heads in confusion.
When the dot is flipped you can clearly see a detailed sketch of a horse complete with a mane and tail, saddle and bridle and grass around its feet.
Dudas, or Dudolf as he is known when drawing, spawned the Where's waldo-style internet puzzle craze back in December last year when he asked fans to find the panda hidden in these snowmen
The image of the panda was shared hundreds of thousands of times as it captivated internet users who eventually found him here
Some people can only see the outline of the image before the red spot is flipped, while others say they can see much more.
The visual games follow on from a teaser posted two weeks ago by Mashable's Watercooler, created by Max Knoblauch.
The drawing features a number of hamsters in various states of happiness, with a few dressed up in wacky costumes to throw off guesses.
Among the crowd of hamsters is a potato - which blends in surprisingly well with its furry friends. Can you spot it?
There's bridal hamster, complete with a veil and a smile, a rodent in a red clown nose, and one even wearing a Mets jersey.
But nestled behind two hamsters that aren't dressed up at all is the potato in the fourth row from the bottom and four spots from the right.
Capitalizing on his new-found fame, Dudolf quickly followed up with this image of wide-eyed owls, this time challenging people to find the cat concealed among them
The key to tracking the elusive feline down proved to be the difference between the owls' beaks and the cat's Y-shaped mouth (pictured)
In another Knoblauch illustration, the reader is challenged to find Doc Brown, Christopher Lloyd's character in the Back to the Future films, amid dozens of Bernie Sanders.
But people may find this one a little easier, as Doc Brown's circular glasses are a dead giveaway in the sea of Sanders.
Hungarian cartoonist Gergely Dudas is to credit for the surging trend of sweet and silly illustrations sweeping the internet and asking people to find the likes of eggs, pandas and owls.
Dudas most recently released an Easter-themed image that disguised an egg among a cluster of bunnies.
The image was shared more than 7,000 times after Dudas posted it on his Facebook page last week.
Reddit user Oneste also got in on the act by hiding another panda in among this group of Stormtroopers
How did I miss that? The panda obviously sticks out once you know where to look in this drawing
As it typical with his drawings the cartoonist, who goes by the name of Dudolf, has thrown in a few red herrings to keep those trying to solve the puzzle distracted.