It seems that we have found an insanely cute and the most beautiful species of the feline family. Meet the caracals, or, more precisely, the kittens of the caracals. In ancient Egypt, these beautiful creatures were even given some religious significance, their images can be seen in paintings and in the form of bronze sculptures, which, as the Egyptians believed, guarded the tombs of the Pharaohs.
The name ‘Caracal’ comes from the Turkish word ‘karakulak’, which translates to “black ear”— indeed one of their most beautiful features. Caracals mainly live in dry regions but are capable of sᴜʀᴠɪᴠɪɴɢ in a variety of habitats. It’s not rare to find them in the woodlands of Africa, the deserts of India, and the sandy regions of Asia.
They’re often called a ‘desert lynx’, but they have a more slender body and longer tail than a true lynx. Their shoulder width is about 20 inches on average, and their weight ranges from 20 to 40 pounds. Males are slightly larger than females.
The most obvious feature of a caracal cat is the long black hair on the ear tips. The actual function of these tufts is unclear, but some people speculate that they may be used to prevent insects or sunlight from entering the eyes, or even to communicate with other animals.
The typical ivory nose is solid reddish brown, the lower abdomen is lighter, and the white “eyeliner” brings out their beautiful features. The black markings on the eyebrows complete the picture.
The caracal is often confused with a lynx, as both cats have tufted ears. However, a notable point of difference between the two is that Lynx species are spotted and blotched, while the caracal shows no such markings on the coat. The African golden cat has a similar build as the caracal’s, but is darker and lacks the ear tufts. The sympatric serval can be distinguished from the caracal by the former’s lack of ear tufts, white spots behind the ears, spotted coat, longer legs, longer tail, and smaller footprints.
The fastest of the smaller African wildcats, caracals are supreme ʜᴜɴᴛᴇʀs. Their sandy-colored coats provide camouflage, and stiff fur cushioning their footpads makes them nearly silent stalkers. Caracals going after whatever they can find, including birds, rodents, mongoose, hyraxes, and even small monkeys. Strong hind legs allow them to leap up to 10 feet high and grab birds from midair with their thick, hooked claws. Caracals will sometimes climb trees and cache their ᴘʀᴇʏ, like leopards.
Despite the fact that Caracals are perfectly suited to the wild, they can also be domesticated and trained to live at home. In captivity, Caracal cats have lived up to 19 years. In ancient Egyptian culture, caracals were said to guard the tombs of Pharaohs. They were also given as luxurious gifts by ancient Chinese emperors.