Named for its short tail, the bobcat is about twice as big as a domesticated cat. These predators are usually nocturnal, so many people are unaware of their presence despite healthy population numbers.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Carnivora
Family - Felidae
Genus - Lynx
Species - L. rufus
Common Names - Bobcat. Often confused with the Lynx, which is closely related.
Bobcats usually weigh between 10 and 40 pounds and are between 20 and 23 inches in height. At only 5 inches long, their tails are much shorter than those of many other cats. Bobcats have soft, fluffy, brown or reddish-brown fur with black spots and markings. Their ears feature short bits of fur that make the ears seem pointed. Along the cheekbones, bobcats have a ruff of longer fur that gives their faces a full, rounded appearance.
Bobcats usually mate in late winter, and the females give birth in late spring after a pregnancy of 50 to 70 days. Litters usually consist of between one and seven kittens. Although the kittens are weaned at around 2 and a half months of age, they will stay with their mothers for most of their first year.
When they are not raising a family, most bobcats are solitary animals, coming together only for mating. They are extremely territorial, marking their areas with urine, feces, and scrapings. Their home ranges may overlap with those of other bobcats, but they generally avoid others of their own kind. During the day, bobcats like resting on overhangs and ledges. They are carnivores that prey upon a wide variety of other animals, including snakes, rodents, frogs, and raccoons. Sometimes a bobcat will kill larger prey, such as deer or small livestock. When a bobcat kills a large animal, it will eat part of it and conceal the rest, returning to the food later, when it is hungry again.
In the early 1900s, bobcat fur became popular as a fashion accessory. Because of increased hunting and trapping, bobcats became a threatened species. In the 1970s, international pressures led to the protection of spotted cats across the globe, including the bobcat. Since then, the bobcat has recovered its numbers nicely.
Other than in portions of the Midwest, bobcats are found all across the United States. They are also common in parts of Canada and Mexico. Biologists estimate that there are between 725,000 and 1 million bobcats in the wild on the North American continent. Populations of bobcats are stable and rebounding in areas across the continent.