Caracal Facts

caracal portraitPortrait of a Caracal

One of the coolest caracal facts is that they are known to have a vertical leap of over 10 feet!

The caracal is a medium sized wild cat found in arid regions of Africa, India and the Middle East. They average about 20 inches at the shoulder and range from 20 to 40 pounds, with males being quite a bit larger than females.

The caracal is also known as the Persian lynx and the gazelle cat.

The most distinctive caracal characteristics are the long tufts of black hair on the tips of the ears.

The actual function of these tufts is not known, although some speculate they may keep insects or sunshine out of the eyes, or even be used to communicate with other caracals.

Caracals are typically solid colored reddish tan with a lighter underbelly and white "eyeliner" that sets off their beautiful features. Black eyebrow markings complete the picture.

Just as there are solid black leopards and jaguars, caracals can also be found in solid black. Black caracals are very rare, and may occur side by side in the same litter as normally colored caracals.

They are powerfully built, with long, sturdy legs that act like springs, allowing them to leap straight up and snatch Birds right out of the air.

The hind legs are longer than the fronts, and the topline slopes slightly from the hips to the shoulders..

The tail is bobbed at about a 3/4 length, but is well-muscled and used as a rudder in the air.

Along with birds, caracals eat an assortment of small animals, rodents, rabbits, reptiles and occasionally large insects.

They have also been known to take down prey much larger than themselves, including small antelope and goats.

stalking caracal

The caracal is a solitary animal, active mostly at night. Their nocturnal tendency make them a rare sight, and their cunning and agility make them highly proficient hunters.

They mark their large territories with urine and claw marks, and though they may not run into eachother, they keep track of, and know the scent of the other caracals in the area.

During the breeding season they will pair off for a day or two to mate, but once impregnated the female drives the male away.

She may use an abandoned burrow or cave as a den, but usually just finds a secluded area of thick underbrush next to a rock or tree, where she will have 2 to 4 kittens.

Caracal kittens are born with their eyes closed and their ears curled up. It takes a full three weeks for the characteristic ears to unfurl.

The caracal was a prized creature in ancient Egypt, but was particularly prominent in ancient Chinese culture.

They were tamed, kept on jeweled collars and leashes, and given as gifts to guests and nobility.

Their hunting and leaping skills were put on display in competitions where several caracals were released into a flock of pigeons.

Wagers were taken as to which cat would snag the most hapless birds.

Today, the caracal is occasionally kept as a pet, but they have never been domesticated and owning one requires alot of dedication and preparation.

They are, big, powerful animals with a strong prey drive and the desire to roam which can make them destructive and frustrated in the wrong environment.

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a few more Caracal facts

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  • The caracal can jump 10 feet high
  • Caracals are generally nocturnal
  • The caracal has very long black tufts on the tips of the ears
  • The back of the ears are also black
  • The name "caracal" loosely means "black ear"
  • Nobody really knows the reason for the ear tufts

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