What Do Caracals Eat?

The caracal, a medium-sized wild cat that inhabits sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, mainly eats small- and medium-sized mammals, although some caracals hunt larger mammals such as antelopes. They also feed on birds, reptiles, fish and invertebrates. In areas where humans have encroached upon their habitats, they attack and eat domestic livestock, such as sheep, goats and poultry.

The most common prey for caracals are hyraxes, hares, mice and gerbils. However, they are known to bring down large animals, such as gazelle, springbok, reedbuck, blackbuck, impala, kudu, and wild sheep and goats. They stalk mammals, remaining stealthy until they are within a few feet of their prey, and then attack and kill them with a bite to the throat or the nape of the neck. If they cannot consume the entire animal at once, they hide it and return to it later, sometimes hauling the carcass up into a tree to keep it safe. During times of drought, caracals are able to go without water and meet their demand for liquid with the fluids of their prey.

Caracals have a prodigious ability to jump. They leap upon the back of ostriches while the birds are nesting and are sometimes able to take eagles to the ground as well. Some caracals are able to leap up to 10 feet in the air to bring down flying birds.