© Karl Svendsen


Caracal [Caracal caracal]


A large, rufous-fawn Cat with tufted black ears, creamy underbelly with faded orange spots, and long legs. The face has exquisite markings. This animal must be regarded as one of the most beautiful Cats in the world. The Caracal moves with grace and a sense of confident power. It is an expert climber and regularly takes refuge in trees. Melanistic or all black Caracal have also been reported.


In hunting, the Caracal is mainly nocturnal, but will also use the twilight hours to search out its prey. Diurnal activity has also been observed, specifically in the hunting of bird. For its size the Caracal is strong and fast, and as well as taking smaller prey such as Jerboas, Sand Rat, Ground Squirrel and Rock Hyrax, it can also bring down the larger Reedbuck and Duiker.

This Cat is able, from a sitting position, to launch 4-5 metres in the air by using its strong hind quarters and limbs. They do this to pluck flying bird prey from the air.

©Caracal feeding.


In most parts of its range the Caracal has no set breeding period and a female may often mate with up to three males. The litter size varies between 1-6 kittens, which are born after a gestation period of approximately 78 days.

The kittens have a daily weight gain of approximately 21g per day and although they reach maturity at about 16-18 months of age they are often independent from about 12 months.


The Caracal is a mostly nocturnal, secretive, solitary and an aggressive animal. Due to being hunted as a problem animal by farmers, Caracal became even more elusive and thus a sighting of one is very difficult.


The Cat is found in dry savannah and woodland areas, scrubland and rugged terrain in mountainous regions, where it is known to live as high as up as 3000 metres. Like other Cats found in dry, arid or semi-dessert locations, the Caracal can survive for long periods without water, instead obtaining its requirement form the metabolic moisture of its prey.
©Nigel Dennis

Where Caracal Are Found

Caracal can be found throughout South Africa and prefers open areas in woodland savannahs as well as rocky, hilly areas.

Vital Statistics

©Roger de la Harpe
Weight (Female)
11 kg
Weight (Male)
15 kg
Length (Female)
109 cm
Length (Male)
117 cm
Gestation Period
117 cm
No of Young
2 - 4 (sometimes 5)
2 - 4 (occasionally 5) young are born from October - March after a gestation period of ± 2 months.

Spoor Description

Compared to those of the Serval, the footprints of the Caracal are broader and the indentations at the front of the intermediate pads are more prominent.
Kruger National Park - South African Safari