Sand Cat, Red Panda, and Meerkat By: Patrick Lagua
Sand Cat Felis margarita The sand cats head is conspicuously broad with large, pointed ears. Its fur is a sandy yellow with pallid bars, which are sometimes hardly visible. The mucosa of the eyes is striking black, and so is the fur on the tip of its tail. ID and Features
The sand cat likes hot, dry areas with rolling sand dunes and flat stony plains. It is solitary Habitat and Population Size
It has no predators The sand cat eats small rodents, lizards, insects, and snakes (it is a nocturnal animal). Predators and Food
Relationships with other Species, Range, and Management Issues • They hunt their prey, stay away from water holes and are solitary. • North Africa to Southwest Asia. • Their food is becoming extinct.
ID • Red Panda • Ailurus fulgens • Also called: Fire Fox, Fire Cat, Fat Fox, Lesser Panda, Hun Ho, Red Cat Bear, and “shining cat”.
Features • The red panda is quite long , 31-47 in. (including tail), with the males weighing 10-14 lbs. and the females weighing 6-10 lbs. • It is specialized as a bamboo feeder, but it more closely resembles a raccoon than its larger relative “the Giant Panda.” • Like Giant Pandas it has a ‘false thumb’ that is an extension of the wrist bone. • It’s a medium-sized ,bear-like, animal with thick, long, soft, reddish-brown (rusty to deep chestnut) fur on the superior half and black on the inferior half. • It has a light face with tear markings and robust cranial-dental features. The light face has white badges similar to those of a raccoon but each individual can have distinctive markings.
Continue of Features • The light face has white badges similar to those of a raccoon but each individual can have distinctive markings. • Its roundish head has medium sized upright ears, a black nose, and very dark eyes (almost pitch black). • Its long, bushy tail has six alternating yellowish-red transverse ocher rings, it also provides balance and excellent camouflage against its habitat of moss and lichen covered trees. • The legs are black, short with thick fur on the soles of the paws to hide scent glands and serving as thermal insulation on snow-covered or ice surfaces. • Its strong, curved and sharp semi-retractile claws are standing inward for the grasping of narrow tree branches, leaves, and fruit. • Its roundish head has medium sized upright ears, a black nose, and very dark eyes (almost pitch black).
The red panda lives in bamboo forests of the Himalayan Mountains and mixed deciduous and coniferous forests that have a dense conpy and hollow tree understory below. They live in elevations of 2,000-4,800 meters where the weather is cool and moist. Fewer than 2,500 Habitat and Population Size
Predators • Snow Leopards attack adults and Yellow-Necked Martens often take cubs in the nest.
Food • They are mostly vegetarian, primarily bamboo shoots, roots, fruit, acorns, berries, lichen, grasses and mushrooms. • They also eat insects, bird eggs, young birds, small rodents, and fish. • red pandas have the digestive system of a carnivore therefore it cannot digest wood fiber. • It therefore has to eat large amounts of bamboo everyday in order to survive. • They need to consume about 30% of their body weight in bamboo daily.
They are mostly solitary but sometimes they form pairs or small family groups. They are crepuscular (active around dawn and dusk) and nocturnal. Native to southeastern Asia, along a crescent formed by the Himalayan Mountain foothills from western Nepal, southern Tibet, Bhutan, northeast India, east into the highlands of Burma (or Myanmar), the Gongshan Mountains of Yunnan province in China, and the Hengduan Mountains of Sichuan province in China. Relationships with other Species and Range
Management Issues • They are endangered in China and protected in Nepal, habitat destruction (habitat fragmentation), competition of local live stock, poaching, deforestation and farming . • In southwest China the red panda is hunted for its fur and especially for its highly-valued bushy tail from which hats are produced. • Their fur is often used for local cultural ceremonies and in weddings, the bridegroom traditionally carries the hide. • The “good-luck charm” hats are used by Chinese Newlyweds.
Meerkat (suricate) Suricata suricatta It’s a small (mongoose) weighing on average about 1.61 lbs. for males and 1.58 lbs. for females. Its long slender body and limbs give it a body length of 10-14 in. and an additional tail length of 7-10 in. Its tail is not bushy like all other mongoose species but is rather long, thin, and tapers to a black or reddish colored pointed tip. ID and Features
Features page 2 • Its face tapers, coming to a point at the nose, which is brown. • The eyes have black patches around them, which help deflect the sun’s glare. • The meerkat has small black crescent ears that can close when digging to keep the sand out. • Like cats, meerkats have binocular vision, a large peripheral range and depth perception. • At the end of each of a meerkat’s “fingers” is a non-retractible, strong, .8 in. long curved claw used for digging underground burrows and digging for prey. • The claws also help them climb trees (occasionally they do to get a better view).
Features page 3 • They have four toes on each foot and long, slender powerful limbs. • The coat is usually fawn-colored peppered with gray, tan or brown with a silver tint. • They have short parallel stripes across their backs, extending from the base of their tail to the shoulders (The patterns of stripes are unique to each meerkat). • The underside of the meerkat has no markings but the belly has a patch which is only sparsely covered with hair and shows the black skin underneath. • The meerkat uses this area to absorb heat while standing on its rear legs, usually early in the morning after cold desert nights.
Habitat • They are found in the semi arid plains of southern Africa. • They avoid woodland and dense vegetation, preferring to live among the scrub. • At night the meerkat retires to a network of burrows, which may be as deep as 10 feet. • They make dens in the crevices between rocks.
They live in large groups and watch out for one another, with numbers, up to 40. This is called a mob, gang or clan. The main predators are: Martial Eagle (to right) Jackals (below) Tawny Eagles. (to right) Population Size and Predators
They eat scorpions (they are immune to their venom), beetles, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, worms, crickets, small mammals, small reptiles (like lizards and snakes), birds, plants (like tubers and roots). They are primarily insectivores. They have no excess body fat stores, so foraging for food is a daily need. They are prey to larger animals. Ground squirrels and mongoose sometimes live in the burrows with them. Their prey (mostly insects). Mutual benefit with other animals Food and Relationships with other Species
They range from Angola through Namibia, Botswana, Karroo, and South Africa. Predators Range and Management Issues
Cites • wikipedia.com • indiantiger.org • tigerhomes.org • lsb.syr.edu/projects/cyberzoo/redpanda.html • itech.pjc.edu/sctag/REDPANDA/Red%20Panda.htm • wonderclub.com • meerkats.net • bio.davidson.edu/people/vecase/Behavior/Spring2004/fitzpatrick/Environmental%20Factors.htm