Genus: Caracal (The caracal or desert lynx is the only member of this genus)
Species: Caracal caracal
The name Caracal is derived from the Turkish words “kara kulak” meaning “black ear.” They are also called the Desert Lynx, since they have long tufts (1.75 inches or 5 cm long) of black hair sticking out of the tops of their ears but they aren’t related to the Lynx.
The Caracal has a short, dense coat of tawny brown or reddish brown and sometimes they are melanistic (black, like little black panthers). The Caracal is the largest of Africa’s small wild cats and it’s also the ballsiest and most aggressive.
Males can weigh as much as 40 pounds (18 kg), and females as much as 35 (16 kg). They stand between 16-20 inches at the shoulder (40-50 cm), and are 35-39 inches long (80-100 cm). Caracals live in the drier savannah and woodland regions of sub-Saharan Africa, and actually prefer the more desert-like areas. They can also be found living in evergreen mountain forests but they don’t live in tropical rainforests
Central Africa, South Africa, west Africa, southwest Asia, and the Middle East are their hangouts. Caracals are solitary animals, and only come together to mate, or in the case of a mother, to raise her kittens.
In captivity, Caracals have lived up to 19 years. In the wild it’s around 12. Caracals prey on all kinds of small animals like rodents, hares, hyraxes, and small antelope but unlike other small African cats, Caracals have no problem taking down an animal bigger than them- like an adult springbok or a juvenile Kudu (these are African ungulates with sharp horns). Caracals sometimes store their food in a tree like a leopard does but this behavior is not seen very often. Caracals are mostly nocturnal but in protected areas they are sometimes a little more active during the day.