Nocturnal Activity Budget of Captive Bred Sand Cat Kittens During Weaning Period

Kimjohn S. Doble, Demi C. Booth


The sand cat (Felis margarita) is a specialist of arid desert habitat, with a wide but patchy distribution in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Central Asia and Pakistan. Due to its small size, perfect camouflage and its nocturnal habits; the sand cat is not an easy species to observe in the wild and little is known about their nocturnal behaviour. Diurnal time-activity budgets are commonly performed in captive animal collections, but little consideration is given to how animals behave outside of zoo opening hours. The assessment of nocturnal behaviour can provide more detailed information on how animals use the space provided to them and shed light on behaviour not commonly observed. This study examined the nocturnal behaviour and activity of 1.2 captive bred sand cat kittens during weaning period. Observations were conducted from July to August 2019 at Dubai Safari Park in United Arab Emirates. Nocturnal observations were recorded from 19:00 until 06:00 hours using a camera trap. A scan sampling data collection technique was used to find the percentage of time spent by each cat in each behaviour. A total of 15 behaviours were observed from 1,578 behaviour samples recorded. Observations show that the most active behaviours of the kittens were recorded as ‘Alert’ behaviour (28%), locomotion (25%), and socializing (16.5%). It was observed that the kittens were most active between 01:00 to 06:00 hours. It is recommended that further studies are needed with the use of Close Circuit Television (CCTV) Camera that can run 24-hours to account for any diurnal activity leading up to sunset prior to study timeframe that starts from 19:00 and ends to 06:00 hours, and to gather adequate information and to obtain more detailed results.


Sand Cat; Nocturnal; Behaviour; Conservation; Captivity

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Copyright (c) 2021 Kimjohn S. Doble, Demi C. Booth

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Journal of Zoo Biology
ISSN: 2706-9761 (Online), 2706-9753 (Print)
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