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Caracal Facts

The Caracal is a medium-sized wild cat found primarily in Africa’s sub-Saharan region, the Near East, Central Asia, and Indian subcontinent. The name comes from the Arabic meaning “desert lynx.” The species is also known as African Lynx or Desert Cat.

Caracals have distinctive tufts of black hair on the tips of their ears that produce excellent hearing so as to hunt at night where other animals can’t see them coming. These cats are territorial animals with large ranges that overlap with those of a number of other smaller felines, such as servals

Caracal Facts for Kids

  • Caracals live about 12 years in the wild.
  • They have a sleek coat of short reddish-gold fur.
  • Caracals can be found throughout most regions of Africa.
  • Caracals are carnivore that eats small animals as well as birds.
  • Humans are a threat to caracals
  • They are found in the forest, desert, and savannas of much of Africa and parts of the Middle East.

Everything You Need To Know About Caracals

1. Their Ears Are Very Important

Looking at these incredible animals, it’s already clear to see that their ears are a prominent feature. The tufts at the end of their long ears make them especially recognizable. But did you know that these tufts of hair are very important to them?

Scientists have linked them with communication between caracals, and they are also believed to enhance the sound, making their hearing incredibly precise.

2. They’re Expert Hunters

You might expect it, given their incredible hearing powers, but it’s not just the tufts on their ears that make them so effective. Their ears also contain over 20 muscles, so they can swivel their ears in multiple directions to detect the smallest sound of potential prey.

And they have plenty of prey. From birds to monkeys, rodents to mongoose, if they can catch these animals, then they are potential meals for the Caracal. Their soft cushioned feet, sandy-colored fur, and hooked claws make them silent, swift killers.

3. They’re Perfect For Sub Saharan Africa

You can find these animals living in the deserts of South Africa or the Middle East because they are so well suited to desert life. In fact, they are known by another name too: desert lynx, showing just how synonymous they are with the deserts they call home.

They’re also the fastest of the smaller African wildcats, so they are better placed to catch prey than some of the other smaller wildcats – so they far up the chain of survival, and their population continues to thrive.

4. They’re As Strong As They Are Fast

In terms of size, they only grow to around three and a half feet and only reach weights of between 25 and 40 pounds, but they are strong, fast, agile animals that can attack prey at an extensive range.

Their powerful hind legs allow them to jump distances of up to 12 feet – almost four times the distance of their average size – and have even snagged flying birds as they try to escape the wildcat’s clutches. Their hooked claws pin their prey down swiftly, and once caught, there is very little chance that the prey will escape the strength of these animals.

5. They’re Resourceful Mothers

Mating for caracals is a year-round event, and they are not restricted to any seasons as some animals are. Females will use urine as an indicator that they are ready to mate, and males will fight one another for the chance to mate with the female.

Once pregnant, females usually take around two-and-a-half months to give birth. The interesting thing here is, they don’t create a safe space of their own to give birth. Instead, the female will locate an abandoned den of another creature and use this as a place to give birth. All the reward, with no effort! Very resourceful.

6. They Sometimes Store Prey In Trees

Yes, just like leopards, these animals sometimes save their meals for a later date and will take any prey they catch and store them in trees. This is actually fascinating because it shows some element of planning on their behalf.

This behavior is also much more likely to be seen when their territories are more densely populated with hyenas. As hyenas are opportunistic and cunning, they would have no qualm in stealing a caracals catch of the day, so these wildcats sometimes hide their prey out of reach of those crafty hyenas.

7. They Have A Softer Side

It’s not all sneak attacks and vicious swipes of their claws for these wildcats. Mothers actually enjoy cuddling with their young, and they’re young enjoy cuddling one another too. Once they reach adulthood and leave their mother though (usually around ten months old), caracals become solitary animals who will not seek the company of another unless they wish to mate. After which, the adults will go their separate ways and continue to live in solitude.

8. They Have A Long Life

On average, these animals can live until they are 20 years of age in the wild. Interestingly, they are also one of the rare cases of an animal that lives longer in captivity than in the wild. Caracals in captivity have lived for as long as thirty years. Wherever they live, they’re predicted to have a long life!

9. Their Combination Of Whiskers Is Entirely Unique

Few people know this, but all cats, including wildcats like these, have a unique combination of whiskers. It may vary between the number of whiskers, the length of whiskers, or the color of them, but each individual animal has a unique set of whiskers that helps experts identify them as individuals.

Think of it like fingerprints on humans; the whiskers on their face help identify these wildcats.

10. They Are Adaptable Animals

Living predominantly in South Africa, they are used to weather that is uncomfortable at the best of times and dangerous at the worst. But in times of drought, they are incredibly adaptable.

No matter how long the drought lasts, they can meet their water intake needs simply by drinking the fluids of their prey. It’s gross if you’re squeamish, but it shows how suited to the environment they are.

11. They’re Mostly Nocturnal

Glimpsing these majestic wildcats during the day is extremely difficult. We can see them rarely on safaris in South Africa, but they are far more active during the night. It makes sense considering the previous point we made above.

Being outside in the hot sunshine of the afternoon will cause dehydration far quicker than being out at night. Again, it just highlights how easy surviving in these conditions seemingly is for these resourceful desert lynxes.

12. They Communicate Their Mood Like Most Other Cats

That’s right! When they’re happy and content, they’ll purr to show it. If they’re angry or annoyed, then they’ll hiss. They also meow like other cats too, and in captivity, may even meow for food, just like house cats do when they want to feed in our homes. It might only be a small thing, but it’s fascinating to think about how these wildcats in South Africa and the Middle East have so much in common with Mittens, the Tabby cat up the street!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a caracal eat?

A caracal is a cat that eats mainly birds, rodents, and small antelopes. If it eats an animal but cannot finish it, it will drag it to a tree and hang it to eat later.

They are occasionally killed by people to help protect livestock or as retribution for preying on small livestock.

Can Caracal kill human

No, caracals are solitary hunters and prefer prey that is smaller than themselves. They do not view humans as a desirable source of food.

Can Caracals be pets?

Caracals do not make good pets. They are wild animals and don’t usually enjoy living in an area where they are confined.

Where do Caracals sleep

Most of the time, they sleep in burrows, rock crevices, or dense bush.

How many claws does a Caracal have?

A caracal has four claws on each front paw.

How much do Caracals weigh?

Caracals are one of the most agile predators in Africa. They can weigh on average 12 pounds.