Caracal - Caracal caracal
( Schreber, 1776 )



Caracal Photo
Caracal Location Map
Africa / Asia
Caracal Photo Caracal Location Map Africa / Asia

Subspecies: 9
Est. World Population: Unknown

IUCN Status: LOWER RISK - Least Concern

Body Length: 24 - 37 in
Tail Length: 8 - 11 in
Shoulder Height:
Weight: 30 - 45 lbs

Top Speed:
Jumping Ability: (Horizontal)

Life Span: 16 - 19 yrs in the Wild
Life Span: Unknown in Captivity

Sexual Maturity: 16 - 18 mo (Females)
Sexual Maturity: 16 - 18 mo (Males)
Litter Size: 1 - 6
Gestation Period: 70 - 78 days

Caracals are very striking beasts. From head to tail, the caracal measures 32 - 48 inches, with the tail accounting for 8 - 11 inches of this length. The short reddish-brown pelage on the back and flanks is contrasted by the white fur on the chin, throat and ventrum. Most notably, the caracal's ears, which are long and slender, are topped by long tufts of black fur.

- North Africa
- Sudan, South Africa
- Namibia
- Botswana
- Gabon
- Turkmenia
- Sudan, Ethiopia
- Nigeria
- Arabia, India

Caracals are at home in a number of habitats. They are found in woodlands, savannahs, and in scrub forests, but avoid sandy deserts. In Southern Africa, this species is more commonly found in upland areas. Caracals typically use abandoned porcupine burrows and rock crevices for maternal dens but can be found with their young in dense vegetation.

Biomes: tropical deciduous forest, tropical scrub forest, tropical savanna & grasslands

Palearctic, Oriental, Ethiopian: Caracals are found in most regions of northern Africa, the Arabian peninsula, and southwestern Asia.

Life Cycle:
Caracals appear capable of breeding year round. After a gestation of 70 - 78 days, a female gives birth to 1 - 6 cubs, with an average litter size of 3. Young are nursed for 10 - 25 weeks.

Food & Hunting:
Caracal are strictly carnivorous. They prey primarily on birds, rodents, and small antelopes. Like most felids, caracals stalk their prey before pouncing upon it. In areas of human settlement, these cats sometimes eat poultry. Caracals sometimes store the remains of their prey in the forks of trees or in dense bushes, later returning for further feeding.

Caracals are nocturnal animals. Although mainly terrestrial, they are excellent jumpers and climbers. They are the fastest felids of their size. The social system of the caracal is not well understood. They are primarily solitarily or live as mated pairs. Individuals appear to defend territories which they mark with urine.

The Soviet Central Asian subspecies has an IUCN listing as rare. All Asian populations have a CITES appendix 1 listing.

Other Details:
Caracals are easily captured and tamed. In Iran and India they have been used to assist hunters.However, poultry farmers are not fond of caracals. The skill of these cats at jumping and climbing have allowed them to exploit poultry as a staple food despite the fences farmers have erected.

Brakefield, Tom. Big Cats: Kingdom of Might. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, 1993
Alden, Peter. National Audubon Society Field Guide To African Wildlife. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1995
Nowak, Ronald. Walker's Mammals Of The World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999

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Database Last Updated: 31 Dec 1969

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