The caracal is a long legged, slender cat that lives is semiarid lands. It can be identified immediately by its smooth, sandy coat and the prominent black tufts on its ears. The caracal is an agile predator that can kill animals as large as a young antelope. Its hunting skills were once admired in parts of Asia, where it was tamed and trained to hunt game. In the wild it leads a solitary life, although like other cats, it is a caring parent.
Habits: The caracal lives mainly on dry terrain from India to Africa. It prefers stony, scrubby ground and desert steppes, but it will venture into dry grassland and savanna woodland. In dense, moist grassland a similar - sized cat called the serval is more common. During the day the caracal usually rests among rocks or in holes, where its coat color blends with the terrain. This cat is faster than most cats of its size, jumps well, and can climb trees quickly. Generally a solitary, territorial animal, the caracal stakes out its domain by urinating on rocks, trees, and vegetation.
The caracal's ears are larger and have longer tufts than those of other cats. When a caracal encounters others of its kind, its ears become signaling devices. As it moves its head from side to side, the black and white markings make the ears very prominent. The caracal holds its ears upright when alert, but when stalking prey, it flattens its ears to make them less conspicuous.
Breeding This solitary animal pairs only when ready to breed, and its mating season varies. After a gestation of 10 to 11 weeks, the female gives birth to two or three young. For the first few weeks, the young remain hidden in the den. They can not see well until they are about 10 days old, so they do not wander away. By the age of four or five weeks, the kittens are lively and playful. After two months the kittens start to eat solid food, but they stay close to their mother's side for an other 10 months..
Food & Hunting: The caracal hunts mostly at night, often over wide areas, using its speed and guilty to stalk and snatch prey. Mostly it catches birds up to the size of guineafowl. It also hunts rodents, hyraxes, monkeys, lizards, and young antelopes, and it eats vegetable matter such as berries. This versatile cat uses serval hunting techniques. It kills most small mammals by waiting behind cover and surprising them with a sudden dash and a bite on the neck. At water holes it may lie in wit and kill several members of a flock of birds before they can flu off. Since it can climb trees and jump over six feet, the caracal can size birds roosting in low branches. It can even leap up and strike birds from the air. After killing, the caracal often uses its strong jaws to drag its victim into a tree, where it can feed undisturbed by scavengers..
Key Facts: Sizes, Weight, breeding, lifestyle,
Length: 2 - 2 1/2 ft.
Height to shoulder: 1 - 1 1/2 ft
Weight: 35 to 50 lbs
Sexual Maturity: 6-24 months
Mating: Highly variable.
Gestation: 10 to 11 weeks.
No of Young: 1 to 6, Usually 2 to 3
Habit: Solitary, territorial, and active by night..
Diet: Birds, small to medium size mammals, reptiles, berries
Life span: About 17 years in captivity
Related Species: The Caracal closest relatives are the lynxes, including the European lynx, felis lynx, and the bobcat, f. rufus.
Distribution: Found over most of Africa,
except the Sahara Desert and the equatorial rain forests. Also found
in Arabia, south western Asia, Turkestan, and India.
Conservation: The carcals population is fairly stable is many regions, but farmers hunt it in a few areas because it attacks poultry. The Turkmanian race is rare and protected.
Features of the Caracal:
Senses: Like most cats, the caracal has keen eyesight. It also ha very sensitive hearing that helps on it nighttime outings.
Coat: The color varies according to locality, but it i usually sandy to reddish brown above and white below. The exceptionally dense fur keeps out the extreme cold at night.
Ears: The caracal ear tufts provide camouflage on the savanna because they resemble the tips of grasses. The cat may lower its ears as an aggressive signal.
Did you know:
The name caracal comes from the Turkish karakulak, which means "black ear."
Through usually silent, the caracal occasionally cries out like a leopard. When disturbed at a kill, it hisses and growls like other cats.
There are reports of caracal's catching and killing roosting birds and prey, including tawny eagles and martial eagles.
Caracal's can kill large snakes. One adult in an Indian zoo killed a cobra.
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