Species profile

Name: the caracal (Caracal caracal) is a medium-sized cat native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and India.

Appearance: caracals have long legs, tufted ears, and large, sharp teeth. Their coats are normally a reddish-brown or sandy colour. Each individual has a unique set of black markings on their face which can help tell them apart.

Size: they typically stand around 40–50 cm at the shoulder and weigh between 8 to 18 kg.

Diet: caracals are carnivores that prey on small mammals, birds, and rodents. Grasses and grapes are occasionally eaten to clear their immune systems and stomachs of parasites.

Did you know: caracals are incredibly athletic cats and peerless hunters. They stalk their prey until they’re within around 5 metres then sprint or leap at their target. Caracals have been recorded leaping more than 4 metres into the air to catch birds! Thanks to their hunting prowess they have been tamed and used for hunting by humans since the time of Ancient Egypt. In India, they were used to help hunt small game until the 20th Century. Caracals were introduced to flocks of pigeons and people would bet on which one would kill the most. This practice may have given rise to the expression “to put the cat among the pigeons”!

Location: they can be found in forests, savannas, and scrub forests in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and India although they prefer dry areas with low rainfall and lots of cover.

Where to see Caracals

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see caracals in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
South Africa
very low
very good

Photo credit: Wildlife Wanderer under a Creative Commons licence from Flickr 

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