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Sand Kittens Spotted For The First Time, And They're Too Freakin' Cute

Arabian sand cats are an extremely rare breed.

The nocturnal sand cat is listed as "near threatened" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's 'red list', which is a list of threatened species.

These feline creatures live in desert environments and can handle both hot and cold temperatures. The fur on their foot pads means they don't leave good tracks in the sand, which keeps them protected from predators. Unfortunately, it also makes them hard to track to study them.

National Geographic

The rare animals look a lot like domestic cats and weight 4-8lbs. Unfortunately, the sand cats are losing habitat as well as food sources.

"Scientists need to be doing more research on how the sand cats live in order to create a suitable protected area," the Sahara Conservation Fund's John Newby told New Scientist.

Gregory Breton, director of Panthera France, was out with a colleague looking to gather some footage of the rare breed. They were about to pack in their bags after no success, when all of a sudden they were greeted with something never-before-seen in the wild.

In the Moroccan Sahara, Breton and his team came across three tiny sand kittens, which have never been captured in the wild. Sand cats are notoriously stealthy, leaving no trace of themselves.

"We believe this was the first time researchers ever documented wild sand cat kittens in their African range," Breton said.

"As we were carefully leaving the kittens, making sure we didn’t startle them, the team spotted and radio-collared an adult female that was nervously roaming around during our interaction." Breton explained. "She could be the kittens’ mother. If we collect footage of her and follow her for a long period, we can gather data on the natural reproduction cycles and offspring dispersal of this species in the wild—all topics never before documented."

Gregory Breton of Sand Cat Sahara Team

"To date, we've spotted 29 different sand cats, radio-collared 13 of them, and collected some surprising data," Breton said. "For instance, sand cats are traveling more than we thought and more than what's been recovered for any other small cats. But we still don't know why—yet."

Take a look at these adorable kittens!

Sand Cat Kittens Spotted in the Wild for First Time

It was 2 a.m. in the Moroccan Sahara, and Panthera France Director Gregory Breton was keeping his SUV driver awake while his colleague squatted on the roof shining spot lamps into the bushes, close to giving up on their expedition. And then it happened: Three pairs of eyes gleamed back at them through the darkness. They belonged to sand cat kittens--and the videos and stills the team excitedly captured are believed to be the first-ever documentation of the species' young in its wild African range. Read the whole story at http://bit.ly/2jXwy0J and see more adorable photos at http://bit.ly/2y4s3rI.

Posted by Panthera on Monday, September 25, 2017

Meagan has an intense love for Netflix, napping, and carbs. If you have a comment about one of Meagan's articles feel free to contact Tristan@shared.com