When we think of wildcats, what first comes to mind are the big cats – tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards and snow leopards. These animals are all incredibly large, but they also separate themselves from other wildcats through their ability to roar. They are all highly skilled at hunting, and they are all extremely dangerous.
However, we often forget that there are hundreds of medium- and small-sized cats that are still somewhat common in the wild. Even in North America, animals like lynx and cougars are regularly seen in some areas.
Commonly referred to as the desert lynx, the magnificent-looking creatures seen below are known as caracals. The name might sound strange at first, but it is derived from the Turkish word “karakulak” – meaning “black ear.” These cats have a rare and exotic appearance, but they are actually fairly common in some parts of Africa and South Asia.
Characterized by their black and unusual-looking ears, these small-sized cats are deceptively great hunters. They sometimes eat small rodents, but they are mostly known for their ability to hunt birds. In fact, their skills are so renowned that they have historically been used by humans for hunting wild birds. When attacking a flock, caracals have demonstrated the ability to knock down up to 12 birds in a single leap!
They are technically considered to be small cats, but the reality is that they closely border the mass of medium-sized ones. Fully grown caracals can reach a weight of up to 50 pounds.
The coloring of their coat may appear kind of bland, but it allows them to perfectly blend in with the dry grasslands they use as their hunting grounds. They are most commonly seen with pale, tanned coats, but their colors vary depending on the region in which they live. Bright red and brown are some of the other color variants.
Unlike some of the other wild cats that characterize these regions, caracals are solitary animals. They are sometimes seen in mated pairs, but they usually prefer being on their own.
The children of these animals are raised in dens that have been dug into the ground or under tree roots. The animal’s smaller size allows them to easily raise their young in these ideal locations that are hidden away from the sun and predators.
Because of their history with humans, some locals still keep them as members of their households. Can you imagine having something like that in your home?
It should be noted, however, that these are rare circumstances and the ones kept as house pets usually come from a lineage that has been domesticated.
They can sometimes come off as being fearsome, but they look so adorable as kittens.
Due to their natural habitat being very dry, caracals have learned to survive on very little water. In fact, much of the water that they consume comes secondhand from their prey.
Just like conventional household cats, caracals sleep through most of the day.
If you ever come across one, never assume that it is safe to approach them. They may look cute, but they are wild animals at heart.
Being the skilled hunters that they are, caracals hunt in both the grass and the trees. Their perfect combination of agility, strength and size is ideal for sneaking up on birds that are perched in the branches of a tree.
The orange-red coloring of these kittens is beautiful.
Like all children, they grow up too fast!
Who wouldn’t fall in love with a face like that?
To learn more about these amazing animals, be sure to check out their page at the Sand Diego Zoo’s website.
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