The Caracal

Scientific Name: Caracal caracal
IUCN Status: Least Concern
Weight: 13-58 pounds

Malawi_Portrait

Description:

The Caracal is a medium sized, powerfully built cat with a relatively short tail that reaches its hind heels. Muscular and slightly elongated hindlegs give the hindquarters an elevated appearance. The head is heavily built with large, distinctive ears, which are black-backed and liberally flecked with white hairs, with very long, black tufts. and contrasting facial markings. The forepaws are large with well-developed claws. Background colour varies from pale sandy-brown or pinkish-fawn to rich brick-red, with pale underparts. The Caracal is largely unmarked, except for faint spots and blotches on the underparts in some individuals. 9 subspecies of Caracal are recognized, 7 in Africa and 2 in the Middle East and Asia largely based on minor differences in color.

Prey:

The Caracal has the ability to take down prey up to 4 times its own weight. A variety of mammals comprise 70% of the Caracals diet. After mammals, the most important prey category is made up of a wide array of birds followed by reptiles and amphibians.

Habitat and Distribution:

The Caracal occurs in most of Africa except for true desert and rainforest regions;in southern Turkey and the Middle East excluding Arabian Peninsula interior; and in south-west Asia from the east coast of the Caspian Sea to central India. Caracals have a broad habitat tolerance, able to occupy more open and more arid habitats than other, similar sized cats. They favour all kinds of dry woodland savannas, dry forest, grasslands, coastal scrub, semi deserts, and arid hilly or mountainous habitats.

Biology:

Caracals reproduce year round, however peak months are from October through February, or November through May, depending on the cat’s home range. Gestation is 68-81 days. Litter sizes average 2-3 kittens, exceptionally reaching as many as 6.