(Caracal Caracal)

The caracal is a graceful, slender, cat with a short, thick coat and characteristic long black-tufted ears. Its body color ranges from tawny-gray to reddish-brown, and sometimes entirely black “melanistic” animals may occur. They have distinctive narrow black stripes running from their eye to their nose and down the middle of their forehead, and their eyes are yellow-brown, with circular pupils instead of slits.

The caracal ranges across Africa and the Middle East to India. It is keenly adapted to the potentially harsh environments of savanna, semi-desert, dry woodland, arid hilly steppe, and dry mountains.

Caracals hunt at night but are not picky and eat any prey they can catch, sprinting after mongooses, rodents, hyraxes, dik diks, and monkeys. Occasionally, caracals kill mammals as large as an impala or young kudu and may attack domestic livestock. The time of hunting is usually regulated by prey activity, though caracals usually hunt at night.

Like the rest of the small cats, caracals may purr when content and make a variety of other mews, growls, and hisses to express their mood. Caracals are usually silent, but can cry out if needed. In addition, caracals make a “wah-wah” sound when they seem to be uneasy. Scent is also used to get a message across, and caracals have scent glands between their toes and on their face. The cats can sharpen their claws on a tree and mark their territory visually and with scent at the same time.

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