Get ready for cuteness overload. Researchers recently filmed sand cat kittens in the Moroccan Sahara, and they’re crazy adorable. The team thinks this could be the very first time scientists “documented wild sand cat kittens in their African range.”
Sand cats can be incredibly elusive. They don’t leave many visible footprints. They’re quiet when they meow. And they don’t leave prey remains around. Their fur offers excellent camouflage in the desert, and they move around during the night, or at dusk or dawn. According to Grégory Breton, Panthera France managing director and one of the team members, “Finding these kittens was astonishing.”
Breton was headed back to camp with Alexander Sliwa, Cologne Zoo curator, and Sahrawi driver Elhaj at 2:00 AM, after seven hours of searching for sand cats that day, when they saw the glimmer of three pairs of eyes: the sand cat kittens. Breton described them as having wider faces and bigger ears than a regular house cat. The researchers think they were between six and eight weeks old.
Sand cats haven’t been well studied in their natural range, according to Breton. After the sightings, the team acquired a permit from the authorities in Morocco to catch and collar the cats. Breton said they’ve spotted 29 different sand cats and radio-collared 13. They’ve started gathering information that will help protect the species, and some of their findings have surprised them, like the fact that “sand cats are traveling more than we thought and more than what’s been recovered for any other small cats.”
The team makes clear in their video above that sand cats are a wild desert species, and say, “Please don’t try to acquire them as a pet, rather save an abandoned domestic cat!” You can follow the team, which also includes Jardin Zoologique National veterinarian Saâd Azizi and other local guides and drivers, on the Sand Cat Sahara Team Facebook page.
Images via screenshot