Caracal caracal


  • Domain Eukarya: All members of Domain Eukarya have cells with a nucleus and are either single celled or multicellular.
  • Kingdom Animalia: All animals are part of the kingdom animalia and are multicellular, are able to move at some point in their lives, and are heterotrophs.
  • Phylum Chordata: bilateral symmetry, three germ layers, single, dorsal, hollow cord, usually with a big brain, has a whole digestive system, has bones and/or cartilage.
  • Subphylem Vertebrata:integument often modified to make hair, scales, feathers, glands, horn, etc.; most vertebrates with two genders, each with paired gonads; paired kidney with ducts to drain waist; ventral heart with 2-4 chambers;
  • Class Mammalia: All mammals have hair at some point in their life; Special hairs such as whiskers have sensory functions; teeth are lost and replaced only once during a mammal's life; a lower jaw made of a single bone; four-chambered hearts; a secondary palate separating air and food passages in the mouth; a muscular diaphragm separating thoracic and abdominal cavities; a highly developed brain; separate genders;
  • Order Carnivora: Most animals in the order Carnivora can be identified by their massive upper and lower jaw with teeth good for cutting meat; Carnivores tend to be medium-sized animals; smallest carnivore is a weasel which weighs about 35 grams; male southern elephant seals are the largest carnivores which can weigh more than 3,600 kg;
  • Family Felidae: cats have a short tooth row which helps with bite force; retractable claws; five toes on forefeet; four toes on hind feet; many colors to help camouflage; rapid strike and powerful forelimbs to help capture prey; rotating ears; sandpaper-like tongue to help remove tissue from bones;
  • Genus Caracal: This includes only caracals.
  • Species: Caracal caracal

General Description


  • Females are at/below 13 kg while males are up to 20 kg.

Average length:

  • tail length 18 cm - 34 cm;
  • head and body lenght (from nose to base of tail) from 62 to 91 cm.


  • brown/red coat
  • golden, copper, green, or grey eyes;
  • many small spots

Geographical range:

  • Much of Africa, Central Asia and southwestern Asia.
  • They are disapearing in North Africa but caracals in South Africa their are so many that they are being exterminated because they are thought of as a "nuisance animal".


  • Typically found in woodland, thicket, scrub forest, plains, and rocky hills;
  • prefer edge habitats;
  • Found at over 3,000 meters of elevations in the mountains of Ethiopia;
  • dry climate with little leaves;
  • rarely occupy deserts or tropical habitats;
  • sometimes found in forests in Asia (not likely in Africa).


  • Caracals eat animals that can be as big as goats, young kudu, or even small antelopes.
  • Caracals will also eat foxes, rodents such as jerboas and hares, monkeys, guinea fowl and francolins, as well as smaller birds.
  • Caracals are also said to kill snakes and even eat smaller African wildcats.
  • Caracals are mostly nocturnal, so not much is known about their habitats.
  • They hunt during the day when it is cool or cloudy, but when the sun is hot they prefer to nap in rocky crevices or in dense vegetation.

  • The main predator for caracals are humans

Physical Adaptation

  • Caracals have tan/brown fur that helps them camouflage with the desert terrain. If they feel threatened in their preferred, open habitats, caracals lie flat and their plain, brown coats act as instant camouflage.
  • Caracals have long, strong hind legs that helps the caracal leap up to 10 feet into the air. This is good because they can capture birds and jump on bigger prey this way.
  • Caracals have sharp nails and strong front paws that are good for digging so that if there is an unfinished carcass, they can bury it and come back to it at a later time.
  • Caracals have strong massive upper jaws and lower jaws great for cutting meat. Since they are carnivores, this comes in handy a lot.
  • Caracals have sandpaper-like tongues that are very useful when it comes to scraping tissue off the bones of their prey.

Behavioral Adaptations

  • They are very territorial and won't allow other caracals into it's territory. This helps them because it means more food for them and their kittens. If they shared their territory with other caracals, it would be a race of who gets to the food first.
  • Although they prefer hunting at night, they alter their hunting time based on the activity of prey. That way, they will not be limited to either nocturnal or diurnal prey.
  • Caracals maintain a large home range for their small size. This means more food.
  • Caracals have a large variety of sound that they can make. This is good because it means that they can commune with more than just their kind.
  • They can identify which way to attack and stalk prey by looking at their size and studying their weaknesses.


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Bernard, R., C. Stuart. 1987. Reproduction of the caracal Felis caracal from the Cape Province of South Africa. South African Journal of Zoology, 22/3: 177-182.

Breitenmoser, C., P. Henschel, E. Sogbohossou. 2008. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 2008" (On-line). Caracal caracal. Accessed March 16, 2009 at

Grzimek, B., N. Schlager, D. Olendorf. 2003. Caracal caracal. Pp. 387-388 in M Hutchins, D Klieman, V Geist, M McDade, eds. Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, Mammals III, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.

Kingdon, J. 2004. The Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals. Italy: Princeton University Press.

Sunquist, M., F. Sunquist. 2002. Wild Cats of the World. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Winger, J. 2005. "Smithsonian Zoogoer" (On-line). At the Zoo: Caracals, A Black-Eared Mystery. Accessed April 16, 2009 at

de Magalhaes, J., A. Budovsky, G. Lehmann, J. Costa, Y. Li, V. Fraifeld, G. Church. 2009. "AnAge entry for Caracal caracal" (On-line). The Human Ageing Genomic Resources: online databases and tools for biogerontologists. Accessed March 20, 2009 at

Incredible: A Caracal Slaps Down a Bird in Flight

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