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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Caracal
Gray, 1843
Species: C. caracal
Binomial name
Caracal caracal
(Schreber, 1776)
Type species
Caracal melanotis
Gray, 1843 (= Felis caracal Schreber, 1776) by monotypy

Felis caracal

The caracal (Caracal caracal), pronounced /ˈkɛrəˌkæl/, is a fiercely territorial medium-sized cat ranging over Western Asia and Africa. The word caracal comes from the Turkish word "karakulak", meaning "black ear"[3]. In North India and Pakistan, the caracal is locally known as syahgosh (स्याहगोष/سیاحگوش) or shyahgosh, which is a Persian-derived term meaning black ears.[4] Although it has traditionally had the alternative names Persian Lynx, Egyptian Lynx and African Lynx, it is no longer considered to be an actual lynx. Instead, it is now believed to be closely related to the African golden cat and the Serval. The caracal is classified as a small cat, yet is amongst the heaviest of all small cats, as well as the quickest, being nearly as fast as the serval.



Males typically weigh 13–18 kg (28–40 lb), while females weigh about 11 kg (24 lb).[5] The caracal resembles a Eurasian Lynx, and for a long time it was considered a close relative of the lynxes. It has a tail nearly a third of its body length, and both sexes look the same. The caracal is 65–90 cm in length (about 2–3 ft), plus 30 cm tail (1 ft). Compared to lynxes, it has longer legs and a slimmer appearance. The colour of the fur varies between wine-red, grey, or sand-coloured. Melanistic (black) caracals also occur.[3] Young caracals bear reddish spots on the underside; adults do not have markings except for black spots above the eyes. Underparts of chin and body are white, and a narrow black line runs from the corner of the eye to the nose.[3]

The pupils of a caracal's eyes contract to form circles rather than the slits found in most small cats.[6] The most conspicuous feature of the caracal is elongated, tufted black ears, which also explain the origin of its name, karakulak, Turkish for "black ear". A juvenile has black on the outside of the ears, which disappears as it becomes an adult[6]. Its ears, which it uses to locate prey, are controlled by 20 different muscles.[citation needed]

Habitat and diet

A caracal hunting in the Serengeti

The caracal is distributed over Africa and the Middle East. Its chief habitat is dry steppes and semideserts, but it also inhabits woodlands, savannah, and scrub forest[7]. It dwells either alone or in pairs. The caracal may survive without drinking for a long period — the water demand is satisfied with the body fluids of its prey.

It hunts at night (but in colder seasons also in the daytime) for rodents and hares; rarely it attacks animals larger than itself, such as gazelles, small antelopes, or young ostriches. It is a picky eater, and discards the internal organs of the mammals it catches, partially plucks the fur off hyraxes and larger kills, and avoids eating hair by shearing meat neatly from the skin. However, it will eat the feathers of small birds and is tolerant of rotten meat. It is among the smallest felids to attack prey larger than itself.

It is best known for its spectacular skill at hunting birds, able to snatch a bird in flight, sometimes more than one at a time. It can jump and climb exceptionally well, which enables it to catch hyraxes better than probably any other carnivore. Its life expectancy in the wild is 12 years, and 17 years in captivity. Since it is also surprisingly easy to tame, it has been used as a hunting cat in Iran and India[3].


Mating may occur at anytime of year; however, it is more likely to occur when nutrition status is optimal, which stimulate estrous in females[8]. Gestation last 68–81 days, and litter size ranges from 1 to 6 kittens. For litters born in their natural environment, the maximum number of kittens is three; however, larger litters are more likely to occur in captivity where nutrition needs are adequately met[8]. Kittens are weaned at about 10 weeks, but may stay with their mother for up to one year when they start to reach sexual maturity.[9]


A Turkmenistan caracal at the San Diego Zoo

Caracals are often viewed as vermin by farmers in Africa as they may prey on domesticated livestock such as poultry and young sheep and goats[10]. Caracals are rarely seen in the wild despite their relative abundance, as they hide extremely well. Game drives in countries such as Kenya and Botswana widely encounter other animals, but a sighting of a caracal is extremely rare.

Because it is so easily tamed, the caracal is sometimes kept as a pet and can adapt to living with humans[11]. The caracal has been hybridised with the domestic cat at the Moscow Zoo.[12]



  1. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (16 November 2005). Wilson, D. E., and Reeder, D. M. (eds). ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd edition ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 533. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ Breitenmoser, C., Henschel, P. & Sogbohossou, E. (2008). Caracal caracal. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 18 January 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  3. ^ a b c d "SCI recordbook -Caracal". Safari Club International. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  4. ^ D.L. Drake-Brockman (1909), Volume 1 of District Gazetteers of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, Government Press, United Provinces, India,, "... The caracal (felia caracal) or syahgosh is also found in the Dun ..." 
  5. ^ "Cats from A to Z". National History Museum of Los Angeles County. Retrieved 2009-05-31. 
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ "Smithsonian National Zoological Park Field Tag". Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  8. ^ a b "Animal Diversity Web-Caracal". University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  9. ^ "Caracal". International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC) Canada. 2001. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Kusminych, I, and Pawlowa, A (1998). "Ein Bastard von Karakal Hauskatze im Moskauer Zoo". Der Zoologische Garten 68 (4). 

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CARACAL (Lynx caracal), sometimes called Persian lynx, an animal widely distributed throughout south-western Asia, and over a large portion of Africa. It is somewhat larger than a fox, of a uniform reddish brown colour above, and whitish beneath, with two white spots above each of the eyes, and a tuft of long black hair at the tip of the ears; to these it owes its name, which is derived from Turkish words signifying "black-ear." There is little information as to the habits of this animal in a wild state. Dr W. 1'. Blanford considers that it dwells among grass and bushes rather than in forests. Its prey is said to consist largely of gazelles, small deer, hares and peafowl and other birds. The caracal is easily tamed, and in some parts of India is trained to capture the smaller antelopes and deer and such birds as the crane and pelican. According to Blyth, it is a favourite amusement among the natives to let loose a couple of tame caracals among a flock of pigeons feeding on the ground, when each will strike down a number of birds before the flock can escape. Frequent reference is made in Greek and Roman literature to the lynx, and from such descriptions as are given of it there is little doubt that the caracal, and not the European lynx, was referred to. In South Africa, where the caracal abounds, its hide is made by the Zulus into skin-cloaks, known as karosses. According to W. L. Sclater, these when used as blankets are said to be beneficial in cases of rheumatism; an ointment prepared from the fat of the animal being employed for the same purpose. The North African caracal has been separated as Lynx, or Caracal, berberorum, but it is best regarded as a local race.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:



  1. a taxonomic genus, within subfamily Felinae - the caracals


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Caracal caracal (caracal)


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Superordo: Laurasiatheria
Ordo: Carnivora
Subordo: Feliformia
Familia: Felidae
Subfamilia: Felinae
Genus: Caracal
Species: C. caracal


Caracal (Gray, 1843)

Vernacular names

Afrikaans: Rooikat
Esperanto: Karakalo
Français: Caracal


  • Caracal on Mammal Species of the World.
    Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed).

Simple English

Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Caracal
Gray, 1843
Species: C. caracal
Binomial name
Caracal caracal
(Schreber, 1776)

Felis caracal

The Caracal, also called Persian lynx or African lynx, is a wild cat. Caracals are similar to lynxes, but are more related to the Serval. Caracals are the fastest of the small cats.



The Caracal is 65 cm in length (about 2 feet), plus 30 cm tail (about 1 foot). It has longer legs and a look very similar to a lynx. The colour of its fur may be wine-red, grey or sand-coloured (a type of yellow). There are also black caracals. Young caracals have red spots on the fur, but the only markings adults have are black spots above the eyes. A special part of the caracal body are its long black ears - the word "caracal" come from the Turkish word karakulak ("black ear"). Their ears are controlled by 20 different muscles, to help them find the animals they hunt.


A caracal in the San Diego Zoo

Caracals live in Africa and West Asia. Their habitat is dry steppes (areas without trees, covered with grass or shrubs) and semi-deserts, but also can live in places similar to woodlands, savannas, and scrub forests. They live alone or with a mate in a territory.

A caracal may live without drinking for a long time - they get the water from the body of the animals they eat. It hunts at night (but in winter they also hunt in the daytime) for rodents, birds, and hares. It is not usual, but sometimes they hunt small antelopes or young ostriches. They prefer to eat only the external meat of the mammals they hunt, and do not eat the internal organs, and they also do not like eating fur. But they eat the feathers of small birds and rotten meat.

They can hunt birds very well; a caracal is able to snatch a bird in flight, sometimes more than one at a time. Caracals can jump and climb every well, which enables them to catch hyraxes better than any other carnivore.

Caracals and humans

Because they can learn tricks and get accustomed to live with humans, caracals are sometimes kept as pets (especially in the United States and some European countries). Farmers in Africa do not like them, because sometimes they enter in farms and eat chickens and other animals. So they make their dog chase the caracal.

It is not easy to see caracals in nature because they hide very well. Drivers in countries where caracals live, for example, Kenya and Botswana, see many animals next to roads, but it is very rare a sighting of a caracal.

Kinds of caracals

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Look up Caracal in Wikispecies, a directory of species

There are many species of caracals. See them and where they live:


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