Caracal Key Facts

*   Largest of the small cats   *   Black tufted ears   *   Leaps to catch birds   *

African Caracal cat (Caracal caracal)
Caracal Standing by Gerald Hinde from the book Cats Of Africa

Caracal Information

SCIENTIFIC NAME Caracal caracal

 

COMMON NAMES African Caracal, African Lynx, Asian Caracal, Persian Lynx, Caracal Lynx, Desert Lynx

 

NAME ORIGIN The name Caracal comes from Turkish word "karakulak" meaning 'black eared'. The Swahili name for Caracal is "Simbamangu" which means 'secretive lion' or 'secretive cat' as they are rarely seen.

 

IDENTIFICATION The Caracal has distinctive long dark tufts on its large, pointed ears. It is one of the few cat species that don't have any spots or stripes on its coat.  More about Caracal Description...

UNIQUE BEHAVIOR Caracals are capable of tremendous aerial acrobatic jumps. They can leap into the air and knock down 10-12 birds at one time (see video).

 

HISTORY Caracals were once tamed and trained for bird hunting in Iran and India. They were put into arenas containing a flock of pigeons, and wagers were made as to how many birds the cat would take down. This is the origin of the expression "to put a cat among the pigeons".

Caracal Distribution Map
Caracal Distribution Map
Reproduced with permission from the book Cats Of Africa

Caracal Distribution

Caracals occur throughout Africa and South East Asia but are absent from the extreme desert regions and rainforests. There are nine distinct subspecies of Caracal, seven in Africa and two in Asia.

More about Caracal Distribution...

More Caracal Information and Fact Sheets

1. ARKive Wildlife Imagery and Fact File - Caracal Photos and Videos  

2. International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC) - Caracal Fact Sheet  

3. IUCN Cat Specialist Group (CatSG) - Detailed Information and Academic Reference List - Caracal Information

Arkive video - Caracal stalking guineafowl