Mammalian Biology

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 18–33 | Cite as

Among habitat variation in prey availability and use by caracal Felis caracal

  • N. L. AvenantEmail author
  • J. A. J. Nel
Original investigation


In order to determine whether caracal Felis caracal are specialist or generalist feeders, correlation between prey availability and prey use by caracal was investigated in a conservation area and on small-stock farms. In a coastal arid shrub ecosystem on the South African west coast caracal fed on prey ranging in size and taxa from 1 g insects to 31 kg antelope. As in some other arid areas and ecosystems the most common prey was rodents, especially striped mice Rhabdomys pumilio and bush Karoo rats Otomys unisulcatus, and in addition, birds. The occurrence of particular prey taxa in scats was significantly correlated with their availability, with seasonal trends in both availability and use of prey evident in four habitats sampled. Predation on introduced springbok, and on small stock on farms, was seasonal and of limited extent. Results indicate that at any given time or place caracal take a wide range of prey species but concentrate on those that are most abundant, and are thus generalist feeders.

Key words

Felis caracal prey use arid shrub 

Variation zwischen habitaten in Vorkommen und Nutzung von Beute beim Karakal Felis caracal


Um zu ermitteln, ob der Karakal Felis caracal ein Beutespezialist oder -generalist ist, wurde der Zusammenhang zwischen Vorkommen und Verteilung von Beutetieren und deren Nutzung durch den Karakal in einem Naturschutzgebiet und auf Kleinviehfarmen untersucht. In einem ariden Sträucher-ökosystem an der südafrikanischen Westküste verzehren Karakale Beute in Dimensionen und Taxa variabel von 1 g schweren Insekten bis zu 31 kg schweren Antilopen. Anderen ariden Regionen und ökosystemen entsprechend machten auch hier Nagetiere den größten Bestandteil der Beute aus, vor allem Streifenmäuse Rhabdomys pumilio und Karoo-Buschratten Otomys unisulcatus, zusätzlich aber auch Vögel. Das Vorkommen spezifischer Beutetaxa im Kot der Karakale war signifikant korreliert mit deren genereller Verfügbarkeit in den 4 untersuchten Habitaten und auch mit deren saisonalen Fluktuationen. Predation auf den eingebürgerten Antidorcas marsupialis und kleine Haustiere der Farmen war saisonal und im Ausmaß begrenzt. Die Ergebnisse deuten an, daß Karakale zu jeder Zeit und an jedem Ort ein weites Angebot an Beutetieren nutzen, hauptsächlich aber diejenigen mit der stärksten Abundanz. Der Karakal ist daher Beutegeneralist.


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National MuseumBloemfonteinRepublic of South Africa
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of StellenboschStellenboschRepublic of South Africa

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