Caracal Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Caracals are wild cats with black tassels of fur on their ears. Come learn about these cats, what their ear tassels are for, where they live, what they eat and some other cool facts about caracals.

What are Caracals?

Imagine walking through grasslands when you see a bird sitting on a bush. You stop to watch it until it starts to fly off. Suddenly, a wild cat you didn't see hiding in the grass jumps up and smacks the bird right out of the air! Then it grabs the bird off the ground and trots off with its snack. You've just seen a caracal.

Caracals (pronounced CARE-uh-kals) are small wild cats with long, strong legs, brownish-red fur and long, black tassles of fur sticking up from the tops of their pointy ears. Their bellies are white with spots and they can be as long as about 36 inches from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail. Large males can also weigh as much as 40 pounds, which is around the same as 5 gallons of milk.


The caracal's name comes from a Turkish word that means 'black ear' in English. They got this name because the back side of their ears is black and they have a black tassel of hair that sticks up, like an antenna. Scientists think these tassels help catch sound so caracals can hear animals they hunt for dinner or that hunt them.

What do Caracals Eat?

Caracals are carnivores and only eat meat. Besides being able to jump about 6 feet off the ground and knock birds like doves and partridges out of the air, caracals also eat other animals like rodents, hares, monkeys, gazelles and antelope.

And though your shoes might squeak when you're trying to be sneaky, caracals have thick foot pads that help them sneak around without making any noise. This helps them surprise and catch their dinner, and their coat helps them blend in so they are hard to see. They usually follow an animal, like a shadow, until they have a chance to pounce on it, kill it and have a meal.

Camouflaged caracal
Camouflaged caracal

But like you, sometimes they can't finish all their dinner. Since they can't put their leftovers in a plastic container in the refrigerator, sometimes they cover it with dirt and come back to it when they're hungry and need a snack.

Where do Caracals Live?

Unless you live in parts of Africa or Asia, you don't have to worry about being stalked by a caracal since those are the only places they are found in the wild. However, you might be able to see one at your local zoo.

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