The Call of the Caracal

There are many wild cats throughout the world, each with their own unique set of characteristics and adaptations. While all […]

There are many wild cats throughout the world, each with their own unique set of characteristics and adaptations. While all felines contribute to the Earth’s delicate and diverse ecosystem, caracals stand out as a particularly graceful and captivating species.

Here at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, we are welcoming two new caracals who have just arrived! Chaos (female) and Cyrus (male) were acquired from Big Cat Rescue, a GFAS-accredited facility. Initially, Chaos and Cyrus arrived at BCR in 2017 when the Ohio Department of Agriculture learned about a breeding facility illegally possessing exotic small wildcats. Big Cat Rescue has pivoted its mission to focus on conservation efforts in the wild. With united missions, Turpentine Creek was approached by them in 2023 about relocating their remaining 34 animals. Those cats arrived here safely, and they are quickly getting used to their new home! We look forward to providing them care and learning about their personalities. So what are caracals like?


Caracals, scientifically known as Caracal caracal, are medium-sized wild cats known for their distinctive appearance. Characterized by tufted ears, reddish to brown fur, and a sleek, slender body, these cats are a true marvel. The black tufts on their ears, resembling oversized tassels, serve a functional purpose while also adding to their appearance. Their purpose is up for debate. One theory suggests that these tufts aid in communication. Another is that the tufts could resemble insects in tall grass, attracting birds who swoop down and ultimately become a good meal for that caracal. They do probably help them hear better, resulting in pinpointing their prey’s location.


Caracals are adaptable creatures, inhabiting a variety of environments across Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. they are commonly found in savannas, grasslands, and arid regions. Their ability to thrive in diverse habitats showcases their resilience and resourcefulness in the face of changing landscapes. Despite their wide distribution, caracals are often elusive, blending seamlessly into their surroundings with their well-camouflaged fur. 


These solitary animals are known for their stealth and agility, making them formidable hunters. Caracals primarily prey on small to medium-sized mammals, birds, and rodents. Their remarkable leaping ability allows them to ambush birds in mid-air, demonstrating an extraordinary level of precision and coordination. Caracals are also known to hide their kills, keeping them from scavengers in order to secure a future meal. 


Conservation Challenges

Caracals face numerous threats in the wild. Habitat loss due to human expansion, poaching, and conflicts with domestic livestock pose significant challenges to their survival. Conservation efforts are crucial to ensuring the continued existence of caracals. Education, however, is the first step. 



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