Caracals – The Desert Lynx
Caracals live in Africa and Asia and are sometimes called “African lynx” or “desert lynx.” They are small cats and grow only 3 feet long. Caracals have large ears with tufts of fur at the tips. Their ears were designed to pick up the sounds of prey from long distances. The tufts of fur might help their hearing even more, but scientists aren’t sure.
Caracals are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and hunt at night. You guessed it—they hunt for small nocturnal animals like rats, birds and even small deer. They are solitary, which means they like to live alone. Sometimes they hunt with a mate.
Fun Facts about Caracals for Kids
- Caracals usually have around three babies at a time. Sometimes they have as many as six babies at once.
- Caracals have reddish brown fur. Their fur helps camouflage them so they are hidden from prey or enemies. They hide in long grass or wooded areas.
- Caracal males sometimes fight for a female.
- Female caracals are good moms. They have their babies in caves, burrows or old tree stumps. They take care of their babies for the first six months.
- Tuft: A bunch of hair or fur
- Nocturnal: Awake at night
- Camouflage: Ability to blend in with surroundings to hide
- Prey: Animals the caracal eats; also the act of hunting for those animals
- Burrow: Hole in the ground
Learn More All About Caracals
Watch this really cool slow motion video all about caracals:
A video documentary about how a caracal uses its body for hunting.
Question: How do caracals catch prey?
Answer: They don’t chase them like lions. Instead, they quietly sneak up on prey and then jump. Caracals can jump more than 10 feet off the ground.
Question: Do caracals eat all their food at once?
Answer: Sometimes caracals hunt big animals that are too large to eat in one meal. They cover their food with dirt to save it for later – sort of like nature’s pantry.
Question: How long do caracals live?
Answer: In the wild, they live about 12 years. In zoos, they might live 17 years.
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