1. Caracal comes from the Turkish word "karakulak" meaning "black ear."
2. Caracals' ears are each controlled by about 20 muscles.
3. The pupils of a caracal's eyes contract to circles rather than slits.
4. Active at night; solitary or paired.
5. Caracals are found in a variety of habitats. They appear to prefer more open areas to forested habitats.
6. The ears of these cats are black and topped with long black tufts or tassels about 1 3/4inches long. There are many theories about the function of the ear tufts. Some researchers say the tufts act as antennas to help the cat hear, offering an added advantage in pinpointing prey. Others say the tufts keep flies out of the cat’s face. It is also believed that the ear tufts help to camouflage the animal in tall grass by breaking up the outline of its head. The most widely accepted theory is that the cat twitches the ear tufts as a means to communicate with other caracals.
7. A caracal’s hind legs are noticeably longer than his front legs.
8. The caracal is well known for using its agility and superior jumping ability to catch birds just after take-off. Caracals can jump up to 10 feet (3 meters) to catch flying birds. They often make vertical leaps several feet high in pursuit of birds, to knock them down.
9. Melanistic or all black caracal have been reported.
10. Caracal mothers will make a den in an abandoned aardvark or porcupine burrow and will have a litter of several kittens born tiny and helpless with their eyes sealed shut.
11. Like the rest of the small cats, they may purr when content and make a variety of other mews, growls, and hisses to express their mood.
12. Can also bring down the larger reedbuck and duiker. Much in the way of the leopard, the caracal will sometimes cache its larger prey up in the lower limbs of trees and return to feed on its kill over several days.
13. Called the desert lynx, medium-sized caracals have no spots or stripes and have longer legs than a true lynx and a slimmer body. They are the heaviest and also the fastest of the small cats.
14. Their distinctive and contrasting ears are used to accentuate facial expressions, an “ear-flick” is used as a mild threat gesture.
15. Africa’s other cats
Everyone has heard about Africa’s big cats: lions, leopards, and cheetahs. But few people know there are seven other species of cats in Africa. Can you name them? In addition to the caracal, there’s the sand cat, serval, golden cat, African wild cat, black-footed cat, and swamp cat All these cats are small (the caracal is the largest of them), but like their big relatives, they hunt for a living.