Caracal Key Facts
* Largest of the small cats * Black tufted ears * Leaps to catch birds *
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).
LIFE CYCLE Caracal females can reproduce any time during the year, although births may peak at certain times in areas of distinct seasonal variation. Two to three Caracal kittens are born in a litter and kittens will remain with the female until nine or ten months old. More about the life cycle of Caracals.
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".
Caracals occur throughout Africa and South East Asia but are absent from the extreme desert regions and rainforests.
Historically there were up to nine subspecies of Caracal, seven in Africa and two in Asia, however the recent taxonomic revision of the Felidae family proposes only three.
More about Caracal Range, Habitat and Subspecies...