Cats have all the cool tricks. Around 40 cat species exist on this planet, and they all seem to have some sort of superpower: extreme speed, the strength and agility to attack and kill crocodilians in the water, the ability to thrive in the deep freeze of the Himalayas. But one thing most cats are great at is jumping. The caracal (Caracal caracal) is arguably the leader of the cat pack on this front, with the ability to snag a bird out of the air, no problem.
Caracals, or desert lynx, are small, solitary, nocturnal cats with reddish coloring, a white chin and underbelly and giant, black tufted ears – in fact, their name comes from the Turkish word for "black ears." Although their closest relatives are the serval and golden cat, they like different habitats than either of these felids. Caracals can be found in grasslands, woodlands and scrubland, steppes and desert throughout Africa, the Middle East, India and Central Asia. Existing somewhere in the middle of the food chain, they do well in arid landscapes but require a bit of cover to escape predators like lions and hyenas. Caracals can go long periods without water and eat whatever they can get their paws on – birds, monkeys, rodents, goats, you name it. When you're an opportunistic hunter, prey could be anywhere, so it helps to be fast, a great jumper, and able to climb after something that skitters up a tree.