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Are Caracals Good Pets? a tough cat

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key point

  • Although caracals are affectionate and friendly, they are also capable of random destructive behavior like kittens.
  • In captivity, they can live up to 17 years, five years longer than their normal lifespan in the wild.
  • Your ability to have one depends on your state or even your country of origin. In Nevada, you don't have any restrictions at all. However, in Texas, you need a state license.

The caracal is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa and Southwest Asia. They are revered for their distinctive facial markings, russet fur, long legs, and large black tufted ears.

If you want to bring home a caracal, but your family thinks it's a bad idea, well, they're probably right. Are Caracals Dangerous? They probably are. Most caracals have a strong opportunistic hunting instinct, which can put the safety of other pets and small children at risk when these feral cats are near.

Let's learn more about exotic caracals and how dangerous they are. We'll also learn what animals the caracal hunts, as well as some interesting facts about these beautiful wild cats.

Are Caracals Good Pets?

Caracals are not good pets
Caracals are not good pets.

© iStock.com/StuPorts

Caracals are not good pets as they are wild and opportunistic hunters . They are best in their natural habitat as they love to roam, run, jump and hunt a variety of prey.

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Because caracals are not a domesticated breed, keeping them as pets inhibits their feral instincts. As a result, these feral cats may become restless and difficult to control.

Caracals are both affectionate and playful. Although like house cats and kittens, their play can be noisy and even destructive.

Can you tame a caracal?

Caracals cannot be fully tamed. As they get older, their wild side becomes more prominent, including their desire to hunt.

Keeping Caracal kittens as pets has restrictions and special care. First off, owning an exotic animal like a caracal may be illegal in your area. Second, they must be declawed if they are to be kept legally as pets. Also, by their first birthday, caracal kittens mature and may display aggressive behavior during the mating season, August to December.

Are Caracals Dangerous to Humans?

Caracals are dangerous to humans
Caracals are dangerous to humans, especially children.

© Janusz Pienkowski/Shutterstock.com

Are Caracals Dangerous to Humans? Caracals generally do not attack adults unless they feel threatened. However, there have also been cases of them attacking human children for no reason. Therefore, caracals are not very good pets for families with young children.

Some caracals kept as pets make lovely companions and become accustomed to humans. It is wrong to claim that no one has successfully bred caracals without harming humans or other animals. However, pet caracals have been known to become aggressive or run away and hunt any food they can find.

Are Caracals Dangerous to Animals?

Caracals are a threat to other pets and animals
Caracals are a threat to other animals.

©Steffen Travel/Shutterstock.com

Caracals with impunity pose a threat to the lives of other animals. They don't particularly care what animals to eat or what sport to hunt, so household pets and livestock are fair game.

When caracals hunt, they can run at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour and jump up to 10 feet high. They jump so high that they can catch birds in flight. These medium-sized feral cats also hunt animals three times their size. Therefore, it is very important to protect pets and other animals from falling prey to caracals. So, are caracals dangerous to other animals? Yes, of course they are.

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Can you legally own a caracal?

Exotic pet ownership laws vary from state to state. Like Nevada, some US states have no legal restrictions on owning exotic cats. Other states, such as Texas, require a state permit to privately own a caracal. In Ohio, only commercial exhibitors are allowed to own captive exotic cats. In Washington state, private ownership of exotic cats is completely prohibited.

In the UK, owning wild animals requires a permit.

How long can a caracal live in captivity?

The average lifespan of a caracal in captivity is 17 years . This is about 5 years longer than the lifespan of most wild caracals.

Humans are the greatest threat to the life of the caracal in Africa and other countries. Some were hunted for their hides, but many were shot by farmers protecting their livestock, or they were accidentally hit by cars.

What animals do caracals hunt?

Springbok antelope (Antidorcas marsupialis) jumping, South Africa
Caracals prey on cats, dogs and duikers.

© EcoPrint/Shutterstock.com

Caracals prey on duikers, birds, game birds, hyraxes, lizards, mice, small monkeys, rabbits, rodents, snakes, springbok, etc. They are opportunistic carnivores and will also hunt cats, dogs, chickens, goats, sheep, and other domestic animals if given the chance.

Where do caracals live in the wild?

Like the puma, the caracal is impressively adaptive in its choice of habitat. In Africa, they are found in the extreme north-west (Morocco and Tunisia), across the west and east of the continent, and throughout the south. However, they are not in its central area.

They are also found on the fringes of the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, Central Europe and South Asia (including India and Pakistan). These wild cats are known to make their home in low-elevation desert areas, forests and swamps. However, they are particularly fond of dry areas.

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Fun Facts About Caracals

Caracals don't make great pets, but they are spectacular wild animals with unique characteristics and personalities. For example, caracals are nocturnal animals and like to sneak up on their prey under the cover of darkness.

Here are some other interesting facts about caracals:

  • Caracals have long canines and fangs.
  • Their ears have 20 different muscles that help them spot prey.
  • The caracal is sometimes mistaken for another African wild cat called the serval.
  • The desert lynx is another name for the caracal.
  • When the heat is high, caracals can become lazy. They are less active when the temperature is above 68 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 degrees Celsius. Cooler temperatures may be why they prefer to hunt at night.
  • The ancient Egyptians created caracal paintings and bronze sculptures with religious themes.
  • Caracals purr like house cats when content.

While caracals aren't the best pets, they are fascinating exotic felines worth traveling from afar. Conservation groups such as Urban Caracal are a good place to start. Plus, you can read stories about rescues of African caracals in their care.


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I have been a professional writer for over 12 years, specializing in nature subjects, including plants and animals. My areas of interest include pets, marine animals and flowers. Plus, I can't get enough of red pandas and hummingbirds! I also enjoy gardening, nutrition research, and snuggling with my cats in my spare time.

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