Bobcat

This adorable female bobcat (Lynx rufus), who was born in May 2017, was given to the Foundation as a gift to join our native species education program.

The bobcat is a muscular cat, with its hind legs longer than its front legs giving it a bobbing gait. The bobcat’s coat varies in color but is generally tan to grayish-brown, with black streaks on the body and dark bars on the forelegs and tail. The bobcat’s ears are black-tipped and pointed with short, black tufts. The spotted pattern acts as camouflage for the bobcat. Melanistic bobcats have been sighted in Florida with black coat color but they still exhibit a spot pattern. The bobcat’s face appears wide due to ruffs of extended hair beneath its ears. The bobcat is commonly mistaken for a lynx but unlike the lynx, the last two inches of the bobcat’s tail are white. Bobcats have sharp hearing and vision, as well as a good sense of smell. They are also excellent climbers and generally good swimmers although they normally avoid water.

Bobcats are crepuscular; they keep on the move from three hours before sunset until midnight and then again from dawn until three hours after sunrise. Bobcats are confined to well-defined territories that they mark by scenting and clawing prominent trees in the area. In its territory, the bobcat has numerous shelters in hollow logs, brush piles, and under rock ledges. Like many cats, the bobcat is a solitary animal but its ranges often overlap with the males being more tolerant of overlap than the females.

The bobcat is an opportunistic predator and its diet consists of rodents, birds, fish, insects, fishers, foxes, minks, and skunks. The bobcat generally hunts by stalking its prey and then ambushing with a short chase or pounce but the bobcat is able to adjust its hunting technique accordingly in order to catch its prey. The bobcat is able to survive for long periods of time without food but it eats heavily when prey is abundant.

Bobcats generally mate during February and March with the dominant male traveling with a female. Males will generally mate with several females and the females mate with other males. The gestation period lasts 60 to 70 days and the kittens are generally born in April and May. The female gives birth to between one and six kittens and she raises her young on her own. The young kittens open their eyes by the ninth or tenth day and they start exploring their surroundings at four weeks of age. The kittens will begin traveling with their mother when they reach three to five months of age and before they are a year old they leave their mother.

The bobcat is found in North America ranging from southern Canada to central Mexico. The bobcat is an adaptable animal, generally preferring woodlands, but it does not depend on deep forests. The bobcat habitat ranges from the humid swamps of Florida to the deserts of Texas or rugged mountain areas. Predators of adult bobcats include humans, cougars, and gray wolves. Bobcat kittens are preyed upon by owls, eagles, foxes, coyotes, bears, and other adult male bobcats. The bobcat is not considered a threatened species but hunting and trading is closely monitored.

Bobcat Trivia: Bobcats can run up to 30 miles per hour.

Bobcat Facts:

Body Size 18 – 50 inches long, tail is 3 – 8 inches long
Body Weight 14 – 40 lbs
Gestation Period 860 – 70 days
Number of Offspring 1 – 6 kittens
Lifespan 7 – 10 years in the wild, up to 25 years in captivity
Protection Status Least Concern