Sunday, January 2, 2011

Creature Feature: Sand Cat.

Face it: I belong in a zoo. This blog is nothing but animal rants, I know a million people I can talk to about exotic pets (i.e. stuff that most people think belongs in zoos), and it's been my childhood dream to be some sort of animal-related scientist. (Then I found that not being able to do math worth a crap put a dent in that dream, and became aware of the exotic pet industry. I now have a zoo in my room.)

When you see this face, you might want to work in a zoo, too:

No, that is not a stray cat that wandered into  zoo exhibit. It is a sand cat, Felis margarita. Despite the name, it is not native to Mexico; it lives in the deserts of Africa and the Middle East with some general range around Pakistan. It is related to the domesticated cat on the generic level only, and I will be DAMNED if somebody has not tried to interbreed the two. Whether they succeeded or not, I don't know, but the result would be adorable.

What you say about breeding?

Sand cats differ from domestic cats in many ways. Aside from being perpetually cute (those aren't babies up there), they have larger ears that can hear prey scurrying underground, sandy coats, and extra fur on their paws that protects their feet from the sand (or, in some cases, snow). These fuzzballs can survive both scorching hot and freezing cold temperatures. They also get all the water that they need from their food. Desert animals just roll that way; the fennec fox has similar adaptations. 

Warning: Do not attempt to keep these cats as pets. Although my usual "I want one" tendency kicked in around these guys, they do not live long in captivity, and are vanishing from the wild for a number of reasons. Habitat loss and general human encroachment (a dog can eat one of these guys, remember) are the main factors. (Sand cats are actually too cute for their own good - the exotic pet trade is one of their main threats.)  One would think that an animal that can survive the harshest of conditions would be well-suited to captivity, but unlike fennecs, budgerigars, rosy boas and bearded dragons, these guys do not make good pets.

Lick it, bitch! 

Then again, some people would say that regular cats are not domesticated, either.

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