Similar to all other species in the family Felidae, caracals are strict carnivores. The bulk of the diet is made up of hyraxes, hares, rodents, antelopes, small monkeys, and birds. Doves and partridge in particular, are seasonally important. Mountain reedbucks, Dorcas gazelles, Kori bustards, mountain gazelles, gerenuks and Sharpe’s grysboks are specific examples of what caracals might hunt. Caracals consume some reptiles, although this is not a common component of the diet. The staple components of the diet vary with geography. For example, an individual in Africa might consume larger animals such as ungulates, while an Asian cat might consume only small vertebrates, such as rodents. Livestock are sometimes hunted as well. Although caracals are known for their spectacular, bird-snaring leaps, mammals make up over half of their diet in all ranges. Unique among cats of their size, caracals can take down prey two to three times their mass. Small prey such as hyraxes are killed with a bite to the nape, while large prey, such as gazelles are killed with a suffocating throat bite. Prey are usually stalked to within a few long bounds, then captured when the caracal leaps using its disproportionately long and muscular back legs. Perhaps a result of its opportunistic appetite, caracals may engage in surplus killing. Unlike leopards, caracals rarely hoist their kill into trees. In undisturbed environments, caracals will instead scrape earth over an unfinished carcass and continually return to feed until it is gone.
Animal Foods: birds; mammals; reptiles
Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)