Caracal comes from the Turkish word "karakulak" meaning "black ear." The ears of these cats are black and topped with long black tufts about 1 ¾ inches long.
Often called a desert lynx, the caracal does not have the ruff around its face like a lynx does. Caracals have short yellowish brown, grayish, or reddish brown fur. Their chin, throat and belly are white. An adult caracal weighs 35-40 pounds, is 16-20 inches high at the shoulder, and 35-39 inches long (not including tail). Male and female look alike.
Caracals live in Central Africa, South Africa, west Africa, southwest Asia, and the Middle East. They prefer the drier savannah, scrubland, and woodland regions, though will also inhabit evergreen and montane forests. They are excellent jumpers and climbers. Caracals typically use abandoned burrows or rock crevices for maternal dens.
Caracals prey on rodents, hares, hyraxes, and small antelope. They will also kill prey larger then themselves, such as adult springbok or young antelope. The caracal is well known for catching low-flying birds.
Fun Caracal Facts
- The pupils of a caracal's eyes contract to circles rather than slits.
- The phrase “to put the cat among the pigeons” refers to the caracal, who were trained as bird hunters at one time in India and Iran.
- A caracal’s hind legs are noticeably longer than his front legs.
- Caracals are often killed for suspected predation on small livestock. They are also hunted for their fur and meat.
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