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Ascari: Male, born May 11, 2006, at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. He arrived at the Zoo on October 12, 2011, from the Kansas City Zoo.
Aza: Female, born September 14, 2005, at Central Florida Zoological Park. She arrived at the Zoo on October 12, 2011, from the Kansas City Zoo.
Rhaegal: Female, born April 8, 2014, at the Philadelphia Zoo. She is the first black-footed cat ever to be born at the Philadelphia Zoo! Aza and Ascari are her parents.
These small but mighty cats are terrestrial and crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn). They are not great climbers, but are skilled diggers when looking for insects or creating birthing dens. They have been observed to have several hunting styles that include: fast hunting (running through and over vegetation, flushing out prey), slow hunting (slow, stalking movements- which indicates they are low to the ground in an almost serpentine motion), and finally "sit and wait" hunting (motionless vigilance at a rodent burrow waiting for an animal to come out of their den). All of these methods have proven successful for this cat.
Their lifespan in the wild is 10-13 years. Black-footed cats living in zoos may live up to 15 years.
These elusive cats prefer a solitary lifestyle (except when kittens are with moms). Males have a larger home range that typically overlaps through several female home ranges. These industrious cats will find resting spots inside unoccupied aardvark, springhare and porcupine burrows. The black-footed cat utilizes several types of vocalizations that include: purr, gurgle, spit, hiss, growl, and meow. The meow is comparable to the roar of the tiger, however, it is an octave higher. Researchers have noted that this particular vocalization is meant to communicate over long distances.
Breeding will typically occur through the spring monthes. Black-footed cats are sexually mature at 21 months. A female proceeds through estrus within a 2 day period and is only receptive to a male for 5-10 hours. Gestation spans over a 60-68 day period. A litter size may include 1-4 kittens. Kittens eyes and ears are closed at birth and slowly open within the first 10-14 days. They leave the den or burrow at the age of 25-30 days.
They are known as the smallest cat in the world. Their head and body length is 16-19 inches (42-50 cm) with their tail length measuring about 6-8 inches (15-20cm).
Their weight range is 3-4.5 pounds (1.3-2.7kg). The birth weight of a new born cub is 2-2.9 ounces (60-84g).
Black-footed cats are opportunistic predators. They will consume whatever they can catch and their prey ranges from insects to adult Cape hares. At the Zoo the base diet is a commercial raw meat mix formulated specifically for exotic felids. The current enrichment portion of the diet is comprised of small rodents.
They range through Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
On the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the black-footed cat is listed as Vulnerable.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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