Caracal caracal, also known as the desert lynx, or on the internet as a “Floppa” because of their iconic ear tufts, the caracal is a small to medium sized feline native to vast patches of Africa and small parts of Asia.
There are multiple suggestions as to why the caracal sports their iconic ear furnishings and tuft, some possibilities could be to keep pest insects like flies or gnats away from their ears, assistance in camouflage, and most likely for communication.
Caracals are hardy wild cats which can survive in a vast range of habitats, like woodlands, scrublands, and mountainous regions. Like other cats, the caracal is a nocturnal creature, which means that it hunts at night. They use foliage and other flora as shielded from the hot sun and predators when the day finally does arrive.
Caracals are rather large felines, despite being classified as small cats. As such, their predators are quite few and far between. They may include lions, hyenas, and other large predatory fauna in their habitation regions. Young caracal kittens are fair game to smaller canines like jackals. To counter potential demise of caracal offspring, mother caracals hide their young in abandoned aardvark or porcupine burrows.
Caracal offspring production is year round, and largely depends on the abundance of edible bio-mass, which may fluctuate based on the location a caracal currently calls home. They are almost entirely solitary, but male and female caracals will pair up when it is time to breed.
To attract a mate, scent markers are used to alert other fertile caracals that a potential mate is currently in the area.
Females will reproduce with multiple males during these mating seasons, and males will move on once the deed is done, leaving the female to birth their young alone. Male caracals have been known to kill and potentially cannibalize caracal kittens.
It takes up to 80 days for a caracal litter to gestate, and up to 1-6 babies will be born, although the kitten-count is usually on the lower end of the spectrum. For the first few weeks of the small kitten’s lives, they will remain in their birth den and be nursed until around 4 months of age.
They will leave their mother at 8 or 12 months of age, and spread out to conquer independent territory. Caracals may restart the breeding cycle before even reaching 2 years old!
In the wild caracals may reach 10 years of age, although domesticated caracals may have a life expectancy of 16 years.
Caracals are known for their astounding jumping ability, which they use to hunt avian lifeforms. Although they may also consume smaller fauna like ground squirrels, or far larger, more dangerous animals like ostriches.