Caracal

Caracal

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  • Information
  • Conservation
  • Lifestyle

Description

Caracals are medium sized cats with a primarily reddish-brown coat and a white underside. They have distinct black markings across their faces and accentuated pointed ears with black tufts at their ends. As well as long ears the Caracal has disproportionately long legs; most notably in the hind limbs. Like the Serval, which shares many similar traits, the Caracal exhibits a relatively short tail.

Classification

Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Felidae
Genus
Caracal
Species
C. caracal
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Weight
17-42 lb (~8-19 kg)

The IUCN Red List describes Caracal caracal as a species of Least Concern in the majority of its range. However its populations are dropping significantly in areas of North African and throughout its Asian ranges. The greatest threats to the Caracal are habitat loss and their treatment as pests in ranching communities.

Social Life
Primarily solitary animals, male and female Caracals occasionally have overlapping home ranges but only interact while courting and mating. Female home ranges do not typically overlap one another. Caracals are often said to be nocturnal but have been witnessed hunting during the day at times of cooler weather. Thus, their activity patterns seem to be dictated more by temperature than by time of day. During their active and inactive periods these cats are most often found on the ground living a terrestrial lifestyle though they can also demonstrate impressive climbing skills when being chased by larger predators. Despite their smaller stature, Caracals present with a tenacious attitude and have been known to chase off predators that more than double their size.

Habitat and Range
Caracals are widespread throughout Africa; limited only by the central Saharan and deep equatorial regions. They are also know to range throughout Central Asia, Southwest Asia, and into India, though these populations face more threats and are declining.

The habitat of the Caracal can be diverse and reflects a generalized, opportunistic lifestyle. They seem to prefer semi-desert to relatively open grasslands and scrublands but are also known in moist woodlands and thickets and even into evergreen/montane forests, though this is more rare. These cats are also, though uncommon, effective predators in the Atlas Mountains and into the Ethiopian Highlands. More commonly the range and habitat of the Caracal overlaps with the range of the Cheetah and the Serval, though caracals are thought to withstand more arid conditions than the others.

Diet
Hunting often by the cover of low brush the Caracal will pursue a wide variety of prey. Typically hunting small mammals (i.e. cape ground squirrels, Hyraxes), small monkeys and antelope are common resources for them. With their tenacious attitude, caracals are even known to take prey 2-3 times their size, though this is not common. Though there have been accounts of these cats feeding on larger prey (e.g. Ostrich), Caracals are well known scavengers and are unlikely to pursue such animals. Whereas mammals make up a majority of the diet this animal also hunts small birds (guinea hens, francolins, etc.), reptiles, invertebrates, fish, and occasionally plant matter.

Lifespan
Caracals have an average lifespan of 12 years but have been record at over 20 years in captivity.

Predators
Though they do not tend to have common predators both Spotted Hyaenas and African Lions have been known to prey on Caracals.

Reproduction
Sexual maturity: Reach maturity at ~7-10 months/begin breeding    around ~14-15 months.
Mating Season: Opportunistic, usually correlated with resource abundance.
Birth Season: Year-round
Gestation: 68-81 days
No. of Young: 1-6 per litter
Females have litters once a year despite their quick gestation. This is due to the degree of parental investment. Typically relying on tree cavities, caves, or abandoned burrows for the first month of postnatal development females often stay with their young for a subsequent 5-6 months. Males take no part in infant rearing.

Information

Description

Caracals are medium sized cats with a primarily reddish-brown coat and a white underside. They have distinct black markings across their faces and accentuated pointed ears with black tufts at their ends. As well as long ears the Caracal has disproportionately long legs; most notably in the hind limbs. Like the Serval, which shares many similar traits, the Caracal exhibits a relatively short tail.

Classification

Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Felidae
Genus
Caracal
Species
C. caracal
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Weight
17-42 lb (~8-19 kg)
Conservation

The IUCN Red List describes Caracal caracal as a species of Least Concern in the majority of its range. However its populations are dropping significantly in areas of North African and throughout its Asian ranges. The greatest threats to the Caracal are habitat loss and their treatment as pests in ranching communities.

Lifestyle

Social Life
Primarily solitary animals, male and female Caracals occasionally have overlapping home ranges but only interact while courting and mating. Female home ranges do not typically overlap one another. Caracals are often said to be nocturnal but have been witnessed hunting during the day at times of cooler weather. Thus, their activity patterns seem to be dictated more by temperature than by time of day. During their active and inactive periods these cats are most often found on the ground living a terrestrial lifestyle though they can also demonstrate impressive climbing skills when being chased by larger predators. Despite their smaller stature, Caracals present with a tenacious attitude and have been known to chase off predators that more than double their size.

Habitat and Range
Caracals are widespread throughout Africa; limited only by the central Saharan and deep equatorial regions. They are also know to range throughout Central Asia, Southwest Asia, and into India, though these populations face more threats and are declining.

The habitat of the Caracal can be diverse and reflects a generalized, opportunistic lifestyle. They seem to prefer semi-desert to relatively open grasslands and scrublands but are also known in moist woodlands and thickets and even into evergreen/montane forests, though this is more rare. These cats are also, though uncommon, effective predators in the Atlas Mountains and into the Ethiopian Highlands. More commonly the range and habitat of the Caracal overlaps with the range of the Cheetah and the Serval, though caracals are thought to withstand more arid conditions than the others.

Diet
Hunting often by the cover of low brush the Caracal will pursue a wide variety of prey. Typically hunting small mammals (i.e. cape ground squirrels, Hyraxes), small monkeys and antelope are common resources for them. With their tenacious attitude, caracals are even known to take prey 2-3 times their size, though this is not common. Though there have been accounts of these cats feeding on larger prey (e.g. Ostrich), Caracals are well known scavengers and are unlikely to pursue such animals. Whereas mammals make up a majority of the diet this animal also hunts small birds (guinea hens, francolins, etc.), reptiles, invertebrates, fish, and occasionally plant matter.

Lifespan
Caracals have an average lifespan of 12 years but have been record at over 20 years in captivity.

Predators
Though they do not tend to have common predators both Spotted Hyaenas and African Lions have been known to prey on Caracals.

Reproduction
Sexual maturity: Reach maturity at ~7-10 months/begin breeding    around ~14-15 months.
Mating Season: Opportunistic, usually correlated with resource abundance.
Birth Season: Year-round
Gestation: 68-81 days
No. of Young: 1-6 per litter
Females have litters once a year despite their quick gestation. This is due to the degree of parental investment. Typically relying on tree cavities, caves, or abandoned burrows for the first month of postnatal development females often stay with their young for a subsequent 5-6 months. Males take no part in infant rearing.

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Caracal