It’s been a while since I’ve devoted a blog entry to the smaller wild cats, so this week let’s shine a small-cat spotlight on the caracal - this is one cool cat!
These guys prefer dry environments (though they avoid pure desert), and live primarily in Africa and Asia. They get sufficient hydration from prey, so they don’t require much additional water.
The caracal has a couple of features that are especially cool:
Caracals’ ears each have about 20 muscles – all the better to detect prey with! The long tufts at the end of their ears also serve specific purposes:
- They are a type of antennae, that in addition to all of the ear muscles, help scope out prey. Some theories suggest they capture additional sound waves, resulting in a sharper sense of hearing. Prey beware!
- They may be used for communication with other caracals.
- They provide camouflage in tall grass.
These tufts can be up to 3 inches long – notice how they don’t even fit into the picture above!
Oh man, can they jump! Caracals will leap up to an amazing 10-12 feet in the air in order to take down birds mid-flight! This remarkable ability has prompted hunters in some parts of Africa and Asia to tame and train them as hunting companions.
Check out their mad skills in the videos below. (If you prefer to see them jump without having to see the hunt as well, skip to the second video.)
Even though caracals can be tamed, they can still be quite fierce when their space is breached. They diligently patrol their territory to keep out intruders. When cornered, they make up for their non-threatening size with ferocious defiance, and are equipped to do major damage to their opponent when they need to.
Young caracals don’t leave home until they’re about a year old, so a female caracal gives birth on average only once a year. To prepare for the birth, the mom looks for a ready-made burrow abandoned by the previous tenant. High on her list of must-haves for this little living space are protection and privacy. Litters contain anywhere from 1 to 6 kittens – most commonly, 2-3 kittens are born at a time. Their eyes open at about 10 days, and they begin to eat meat at 1-2 months.
Check out the sweet caracal kittens and the pretty momma below! These caracals were born at the Cat Survival Trust in the UK. Their little chirps are music to my tuft-less human ears!
Info courtesy of
- Mountain Rivals documentary – The Discovery Channel
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