For the first time, sand kittens have been documented in the wild, and it's the cutest scientific news we've seen in a while.
The sand cat, also known as the sand dune cat, is one of the few cats that live truly in the desert. Previously, researchers have logged photos of adult sand cats but this is the first-ever video of sand kittens in the wild. These desert fur balls are hard to spot because their coat blends in with their surroundings and their tracks are barely visible.
Are you kidding us? COME. ON. They're so cute!
This incredible footage is thanks to Grégory Breton, who is part of a global wild cat conservation group, named Panthera. Benton and his colleagues spotted the three young felines (they suspect 6-8 weeks old) in the dark one morning as they drove through the Moroccan Sahara.
Grégory Benton, writes in a blog post about the new footage, "Finding sand cats in their natural range … is difficult. They barely leave any visible pugmarks, they don't leave behind remains of their prey, and their vocalizations are quiet." He continues, "They move stealthily at dusk, night, and dawn, they're good at hiding, and their fur provides perfect camouflage when they want to vanish from observers and threats."
According to the International Society For Endangered Cats, these sneaky cuties have earned a few nicknames from researchers over the years. First up is "Peter Pan cats" because even the adults have kitten-like facial features. They're also called "the cat that digs holes," which is less creative but accurate because they spend much of their time in burrows.
So wait, are these buddies endangered? Not quite. Sand cats aren't listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature; however, they do face threats that include the exotic pet trade and habitat loss from human activity.
Great! Let's scoop them up and make them our pets! Benton and his team advise absolutely not. "It's important to remember that sand cats are a wild cat species that should not be captured from the wild or interbred to make hybrids with domestic house cats."
That's fair advice, we'll just enjoy this adorable video over and over. Here it is one more time because oh man these guys are CUTE.
Can you handle more adorable sand cats? We think you can. Scroll through these photos that were taken of Persian Sand Cats in UAE several years ago. You won't regret it!