Stories for Kids | What is a Caracal?

Subject: Reading

Subskill: Reading Comprehension

Concept: Drawing Conclusions and Making Inferences

Grade Level: Upper Elementary

A caracal is a carnivorous (meat-eating) mammal that belongs to the cat family.  Its habitat is the dry savannas, scrublands, and rocky hills of Africa and the Asian countries of Arabia, Afghanistan and India.

The caracal has a long, slender, muscular body and powerful legs.  It has the ability to run with electrifying speed and is the fastest small cat in Africa.  This is due to the strength of his hindquarters. The caracal’s fur is short but thick and reddish-brown in color.  The underparts of its chin and body are white.  Caracal is a Turkish word for “black-eared,” as the caracal’s ears are long and narrow, and the tips have tufts of black hair up to two inches long.  The adult caracal weighs from 28 to 48 pounds and is approximately 1 ½ feet tall.

The caracal hunts alone and is renowned for its ability to leap up into the air to catch low-flying birds.  It has large paws, which are good at swatting birds down from the air.  The caracal is also known to climb trees to hunt for birds in their nests.  It is even known to attack eagles.

When hunting mammals on the ground, the caracal usually stalks its prey and then captures it with a quick leap or dash.  In Africa, the caracal is an active hunter during the mornings and evenings, but during the hottest months of the year, it becomes nocturnal, sleeping during the day and going hunting only at night when it is cooler.  On the other hand, in Asia, the caracal will hunt during the day and sleep at night because the winter nights are too cold.  The diet of the caracal includes birds, rodents, and mammals, such as, gazelles and small antelope.

Newborn caracal kittens are usually born three to a litter with their eyes closed.  They will not open them for ten days, so they need the protection of their mother to survive in the wild.  They live hidden in burrows, rock crevices or hollow trees for the first few months of life and become independent from their mother at about one year old. The caracal lives to the age of 17 in captivity and 19 in the wild.

The caracal is not endangered, but it is a protected species.  It is hunted for its meat and fur in West and Central Africa.  In addition, farmers in South Africa, who are protecting their livestock, kill thousands of caracals each year.

Here are some questions to ask after listening to the article:

What is a carnivorous mammal?

What can you conclude as to why caracal kittens live hidden in burrows, rock crevices or hollow trees?

Why do farmers in South Africa kill thousands of caracals each year?

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