Caracal (Caracal caracal)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family:    Felidae
Size:    Length: 24 to 36 inches (61 to 91.4 cm)  Height: 12 to 18 inches (30.5 to 46 cm) to shoulder
Weight: 35 to 60 pounds (15.9 to 27 kg)
Diet: Mainly birds and small mammals, occasionally larger mammals such as gazelles
Distribution: Africa, the Middle East and southwestern Asia
Young:  1 to 6 per litter
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Cub or Kitten
Lifespan: 12 to 19 years.



·       Caracals are sometimes called “desert lynx,” “African lynx” or “Persian lynx.”

·       The European lynx and the bobcat are the caracal’s closest relatives.

·       The caracal is the fastest cat of its size.

·       The name caracal is derived from the Turkish word “karakulak,” meaning “black-ear.”



Caracals resemble lynxes, but are smaller, with long ears topped by tufts of black fur. They have sandy or reddish-brown fur with white undersides, and a relatively short tail. Completely black caracals are rare, but not unknown.



Caracals can be found in woodlands, grasslands and scrub forests. They have become rare in Asia, but are found in many regions of Africa, with the exception of the Sahara. Caracals can also be found in various areas of Arabia, Turkestan and Northern India. 


Feeding Habits

Caracals are fierce hunters that can take down prey over twice their body weight (eg. small gazelles), but usually just prey on birds and small mammals. If they cannot eat what they have captured in one sitting, caracals will store the remains in a tree or a thick bush to eat later. 



Caracals have no set mating period and may mate with several different individuals. Females go through a 10 to 11-week long pregnancy, and give birth to litters of one to six, with three cubs being the average litter size. The cubs are tiny at birth, with their eyes closed. They are helpless for the first week until they open their eyes, but begin to walk in nine or 10 days. Within 45 days, the cubs begin to eat meat, although they keep nursing until they are six months old. The cubs keep growing until they are 16 to 18 months old, but will leave their mothers’ territory when they are about a year to find one of their own. 



Caracals are solitary animals. In addition to being excellent climbers, they can also jump great distances. They sleep in a den during the day, using the abandoned burrow of another animal or a crevice in a rock cliff. Like many other cats, caracals are vocal animals and make a variety of sounds, including meowing, growling, and hissing.



With the exception of some Asian subspecies, caracal populations are relatively stable. 



Caracal Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US