Bobcat, Lynx rufus

Kingdom:  Animalia

Phylum:  Chordata

Class:  Mammalia

Order:  Carnivora

Family:  Felidae

Genus:  Lynx

Species:  rufus

Status

Bobcat populations persist in much of their original range and populations are healthy.  Following the enforcement of CITES, bobcat furs became the leading felid fur in trade with over 51,000 furs exported from the U.S. in 2006.  In Nevada, trappers may take bobcats from November through February.  The Mexican sub-species is considered endangered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The species as a whole is “Not Listed” by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  International Union for the Conservation of Nature Status: Least Concern; population stable

Description

Bobcats have a gray to brown coat, whiskered face, and black-tufted ears.  They also have distinctive black bars on their forelegs and a black-tipped, stubby tail, from which they derives their name.  Bobcats are smaller than Canada Lynx yet weigh approximately the same or more than a Canada Lynx.  Bobcats are about twice the size of a large domestic cat.  The bobcat is 28 to 47 inches long, 14-15 inches at the shoulders, and 20-40 pounds in weight (average = 25 pounds).

Habitat and Range

Bobcats are pretty adaptable and inhabit wooded areas as well as semi-desert, urban edges, forest edges, and swampland environments. They range from southern Canada to northern east Mexico, including most of the continental Unites States.

Diet

Bobcats will hunt anything from insects and small rodents to deer.  Prey selection depends on location, habitat, season, and abundance.  In Nevada, lagomorphs (rabbits, hares, and pika) compose the majority of bobcat diets.

Reproduction

Females generally begin breeding in their second summer.  Bobcats breed from winter into spring and have a gestation period of about two months.  Litters may include up to 7 cubs, with an average of 2-3.

Behavior

Bobcats are territorial and largely solitary.  Their home territory is marked with feces, urine scent, and by clawing prominent trees in the area.  Territories can vary in size anywhere from 16-40 square miles, depending on habitat and prey abundance.  Though they are territorial, bobcat territories will often overlap.

Wow!

  • Bobcats can successfully take down and kill prey eight times their body weight, occasionally killing deer (in some parts of the U.S.) by exerting an advantage.  Some have been observed to ambush passing deer by dropping out of trees.  Others may catch deer laying down or perhaps struggling in deep snow and bite through the throat, base of the skull, or chest.
  • Bobcats have been known to live 16 years in the wild and 32 years in captivity.