Caracal

Felis caracal

The caracal is a medium-sized cat that lives in woodlands and savannas in North Africa, Southwest Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. They are carnivores,

Caracal is pronounced: "CAR-uh-call." The word comes from the Turkish karakulak, meaning black ear. Each ear is controlled by about 20 muscles, helping a caracal zero in on the location of a prey animal.

Caracal behavior and facts

  • Caracals are nocturnal (hunting at night) and solitary. They eat almost anything they can catch including rodents, birds and small deer. They have even been known to attack sitting ostriches.
  • Caracal are known for their jumping ability, sometimes leaping as high as 10 feet off the ground.

From birth to death

  • Gestation: 69 to 78 days
  • Females give birth to a litter of 2 to 6 kittens.
  • Kittens are weaned at 10 weeks.
  • Sexual maturity: 18 to 24 months
  • Lifespan: 12 years in the wild; 17 years in captivity

Vital statistics

  • Length: 24 to 26 inches with a 10- to 13-inch-long tail
  • Weight: males, 25 to 45 pounds; females 18 to 30 pounds

Status

CITES Appendix II

Caracal, the Oregon Zoo and you

The zoo's caracals live in the Predators of the Serengeti exhibit.

Hunting and habitat loss threaten the caracal. You can help them by joining the volunteer team at the Oregon Zoo and get involved with other conservation groups. Many organizations focus on conservation in Africa, including the African Wildlife Foundation, Tusk Trust, Conserve Africa International, the World Wildlife Fund and the Endangered Wildlife Trust. You can also help caracals and all animals by not buying products made from wild animal parts.

Caracals at the Oregon Zoo

Caracal kittens, Mkuze, Binti and Aziza, born at the Oregon Zoo on June 8, 2011, will leave the zoo for other homes in 2012.

  • Binti will go to The Little Rock Zoo (Little Rock, Ark.).
  • Aziza will go to the Audubon Zoo (New Orleans, LA).
  • Mkuze is off exhibit until he finds a good home.

Peggy

Peggy is a female caracal cat. She was born on Sept. 23, 2008, and arrived at the Oregon Zoo on April 15, 2009. Peggy is the mother of Mkuze, Binti and Aziza, three kittens born at the zoo on June 8, 2011. Cricket (still at the Oregon Zoo) is their father. The kittens found new homes at other zoos in the United States...

Cricket

Cricket is a male caracal. He was born on Nov. 14, 2009, and arrived at the Oregon Zoo on Oct. 6, 2010. Cricket is the father of Mkuze, Binti and Aziza, three kittens born at the zoo on June 8, 2011. Peggy (still at the Oregon Zoo) is their mother. The kittens found new homes at other zoos in the United States...