Caracals are native to the majority of Africa, Middle East and even into India.
Caracals eat a wide variety of mammals. They primarily eat small mammals including mice, rats, hares and hyraxes but have been known to take down prey much larger than themselves. Caracals are capable of taking down prey as large as an antelope and impala. They also have been witnessed attacking an ostrich that is lying down.
A Caracal’s gestation period is approximately 2-2 1/2 months and they have between 1-4 kittens per litter. Kittens are weaned from their mother around 10 weeks and begin to eat meat at this time. Caracal kittens remain with their mothers up to a year before leaving to find their own territory.
Caracals are primarily solitary, though pairs have been known to live together for a significant amount of time. Caracals in the wild typically live between 10-12 years but in captivity can live up to 16 years or more. Caracals have a wide range of sounds including hissing, growling, barking, purring, and snarling. Like other cats, Caracals make their territory with scent. They have scent glands on their cheeks and will rub against trees and bushes to leave their scent. They will also spray their odor on their territory. Scratching trees not only sharpens their claws but also leaves their scent behind.
Humans are Caracal’s primary threat. They are often killed without restriction because they are seen as a problem animal. Even though they are able to be hunted in much of their range, they continue to thrive. Their stealthy nature prevents them from being seen by human most of the time.
Fun Caracal Facts
- Caracals can jump 10 feet up in the air to catch birds
- Caracals will sometimes take down prey 3 times their size
- Caracal comes from a Turkish word meaning "Black Eared"
- Caracals are a keystone species because they help control the rodent population
- In Africa caracals are sometimes referred to as the Desert Lynx or Little Lion