The exotic-looking caracal may live mostly in Africa (and in some parts of Asia and the Middle East) but, funnily enough, its name is entirely Turkish!
Caracal comes from two Turkish words: “kara” which means, “black” and “kulak” which means “ear”. And black ears, the caracal certainly does have!
As a medium-sized wild cat, the stunning-looking caracal lives in dry habitat, scrubland, dry mountain forests, and woodland (while avoiding tropical regions and climates).
In terms of looks, a caracal is very distinctive with its ears being its most defining characteristic: it has long ears ending with tufts of fine black fur. This is the same genetic characteristic as that of the lynx. The caracal has short fur that can vary in color from brown, black to tan.
With male caracal being larger than their female counterparts, they can grow to 34 to 40 inches in length and weigh anything from 35 to 40 pounds in weight.
Being a nocturnal creature and only being active during the night, a caracal rests during the day in areas where it feels safe and protected from the dangers of predators.
In terms of food, caracals eat meat and are carnivores. Their diet consists of small antelopes, rodents, rabbits, hares, hyraxes and birds. As the fast animal and good hunter it is, it can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hours and therefore outrun prey animals such as ostrich and buck. Caracal are also known to be fearless and not afraid to hunt and attack larger animals for food: even those that are up to 3 times their size!
Another amazing characteristic of the caracal is its jumping ability. Caracal are easily able to jump 16 feet into the air and can even catch a bird in mid-flight.
Caracals living close to farmland are often killed by farmers in an attempt to protect their livestock. That being said, caracals are not in danger and their population is still large and thriving.