Humans and cats having been hanging out for like 10,000 years. Maybe it’s because humans aren’t fond of vermin and cats are fond of eating them, therefore creating a beneficial relationship. I’ve been living with cats for about 20 years, and I can tell you that they enhance my life with their furry butts, sparkling eyes, meowing faces, and overall cat magic. I admire their ability to sleep all day and their “devil may care” attitude: you can train a cat, but even when you do it feels more like they are doing something because they want to, not because you asked them.
Sand cats live in the desert where all cats, domesticated and wild, are thought to come from. They live reclusive lives, eating heir vermin desert snacks, living in underground burrows, and being nocturnal. They look like house cats but with super furry feet, which protect their paws from the hot sand of the desert and help them leave no tracks. What also makes them different is they avoid humans and are not interested in being pets or friends or partners or a trophy. They just want to do their own desert-cat thing.
What’s hoppy and cute with ears like a rabbit and lives in the desert? A Jerboa! Tiny freaked-out rodents who jump like little kangaroos and run up to 14 miles per hour. The Greater Egyptian Jerboa is found in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Libya, and Morocco.
One year, for Christmas Eve dinner, my mother served quail instead of the regular turkey or standing rib roast. I refused to eat it. I was probably your age or younger, Sam, and didn’t know about vegetarianism, but I looked at that tiny little bird body on my plate and thought, “No Way.”
The Gambel’s Quail live in the deserts of Arizona. They like scrub forests, because they live on the ground and are kind of crappy fliers. The scrub forests give them a ground cover that they can run their tiny little butts through the grasses and scrubs to avoid predators. Like the Gerenuk, the Gambel’s Quail will remain motionless when they sense a predator. Their feathers camoflage them against the vegetation. . .so they. . .just. . .stand. . .totally. . .still. . .
I’ve seen several descriptions of quails that use the term “chunky” or “round” body. Ok. I understand these are descriptive terms, but I’m still sensitive to the negative connotations associated with them. Perhaps a more polite way of referring to the quail’s shape would be “Rubenesque.” Nothing beats being compared to a Master Painter’s work. Unless the Master Painter is Goya or Bosch (which might get confusing and/or gross). Anyway, Gambel’s Quail, named after William Gambel (1823 – 1849), an American naturalist, who “discovered” this type of quail while traveling along the Santa Fe trail.