Caracal is an interesting medium sized wild cat. Found in western Asia and Africa, it is an intelligent and enduring predator. It is one of the heaviest of the small cats and is a great athlete and runner. It's unique tree climbing and jumping abilities set it apart from other wild felines. Named scientifically as Caracal Caracal it is also often called African or Persian Lynx owing to similarities in appearance with the lynx, though genetic research now suggests that it is more closely related to the Serval.
The coat is generally sand colored though melanism has been recorded. Young ones have reddish spots though they disappear with age. Weight ranges around 30 to 40 lbs, with males being heavier, whilst length is nearly two feet not inclusive of the one foot tail. The distinguishing feature is its long ears, marked by blackish tufts of hair that enable it to accurately locate the source of a sound.
Caracal's agile body and cunning makes it a successful hunter. It is able to survive long periods without water since it quenches its water requirements from the fluids of its prey. This attribute enables Caracal to survive for long periods in dry, desert areas without water sources. Its camouflage enables it to take down a wide spectrum of prey animals including hares, rodents, birds, hydraxes, deer, gazelles and kudus. Caracal is also considered one of the best bird hunters amongst mammals. Its great jumping ability means that it can catch nearly a dozen birds in one leap! For a long time in Asia, Caracal was tamed and used as a hunting cat. A nocturnal hunter, it has been known to hunt during daytime in colder seasons and at times take its prey up trees like leopards.
Despite existing in healthy numbers, Caracals are rarely seen in the wild. They live alone or in pairs. Pregnancy, as in the case of most cats, lasts nearly three months after which an average of two or three kittens are born. They are weaned off at nearly three months and stay with the mother until one year of age.
While they are not threatened in the wild, Caracals have at time come under backlash by farm owners for hunting down their livestock. Lifespan is nearly eleven years in the wild and eighteen years in captivity. I think there is a caracal at my local zoo, but it so shy that I've only had a glimpse of it once!