By TOSHIYUKI TAKEYA/ Staff Writer
October 9, 2020 at 10:00 JST
Editor's note: This is part of a series of videos offering an up-close perspective on the animal kingdom. A special 360-degree video camera system was set up in zoos and other facilities to show how the animals view their world as they interact.
Also visit our special 360-DEGREE LIVES page (http://t.asahi.com/360lives), where you can watch all the previous videos.
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Sand cats, one of the world’s smallest felines, have wide faces, triangular ears and are nicknamed “angels of the desert” for their cuteness.
But the adorable look of the rare species hides a potential fierceness needed for survival in their sandy and rocky habitat in Africa and elsewhere.
The Nasu Animal Kingdom in Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, has displayed sand cats since March. Amira was born in April followed by three sisters in July.
When a video camera was set up for Amira, a fly was buzzing inside the exhibition room. The cat gave a sharp look at the fly and crouched to leap before chasing and jumping at the insect.
According to zoo attendant Yuki Arakawa, the sand cat is adapted to survive in the desert. Its colors help it blend in with the surroundings while long hairs protect its paw pads from the hot sand.
The inner surfaces of ears are coated with hairs that keep out sand blown by desert winds.
The sand cat gains sustenance from preying on small mammals, reptiles and insects.
“The cats are cute-looking, but they are a cautious animal, have sharp fangs and can be aggressive,” Arakawa, who fed the sand cats, said. “They are not suitable as pets.”
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