Field Guide/Mammals/Bobcat

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Lynx Rufus (Bobcat)
Family: Felidae
Size: The bobcat stands 16-22 in (or 40-55 cm) and measures 24-40 in (or 60-100 cm) in length, not including its “bobbed” tail, which measures between 3-7 in (or 8-18 cm). Bobcats weigh between 10-70 lbs. (or 5-30 kg), with males usually weighing more than females.[1]
Description: The bobcat is a medium-sized member of the felidae (cat) family. Its name corresponds to its short, stubby tail. Their cheeks display large tufts of fur. Their fur is reddish-brown with whitish fur on the belly. Black spots and stripes can also be seen throughout the coat.[2]
Similar Species: The bobcat is very similar to other species of the Lynx genus, but is generally the smallest. In addition, the bobcat is very similar in appearance to their cousin, the lynx but is distinguishably smaller and has a characteristic short (bobbed) tail. Bobcats are also the only species in the cat family that display spotted and striped patterns throughout their fur.[3] [4]

Range: Bobcats have a relatively large range. They can be found throughout North America, from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the United States.[2]
Habitat: Bobcats habitat remote, well-forested areas such as cliffs, bluffs or forests. They can also be seen inhabiting hollow trees and logs. Habitats with an abundance of food and prey are ideal for bobcats. [2]
Diet: They are carnivores and thus prefer a diet of meat. They mainly hunt rabbits and hares, but are known to eat rodents, birds, bats, and even adult deer.[5]
Activity: Bobcats are very active between dusk and dawn, making them uncommon to spot during the day. They are referred to be secretive, primarily hunting and moving during the night. Bobcats are solitary and territorial animals that display limited social behaviors.[6]

Reproduction: Bobcats begin breeding as early as February, but is most common during the months between March and April. Female bobcats have a gestation period between 50 and 70 days and give birth to litters of 3 or 4 kittens. Female bobcats are usually 3 years or older by the time they begin giving birth, and kittens will remain with their parents for almost a year.[6]
Lifespan: It is estimated that bobcats live as long as 10-12 years in the wild. But bobcats as old as 15 years have been documented. The greatest proportion of bobcats are between 0-1 years of age, with a steady decline as they age.[6]

Notes: Bobcats are the most common wildcat in North America. Bobcats often ambush prey by waiting very still and then pouncing.[5]

Each bobcat may have several dens in its territory. A main den is usually a cover or rock shelter or some other protected place such as a hollow log. Auxiliary dens are the less-used portions of the home, such as brush piles, rock ledges or stumps.[2]

In the mid 1900s, bobcat populations in the Midwest United States were declining at a rapid pace due to the increased value of their fur. Beginning in the 1970s, international laws were set to protect bobcats. As a result of these laws, the bobcat population has replenished in many northern states.

Lynx Rufus

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Bobcats, n.d.,, retrieved (October 12, 2012) 
  2. a b c d e Basic facts about bobcats, 2012,, retrieved (October 12, 2012) 
  3. Ulmer, Fred, Melanism in the Felidae, with Special Reference to the Genus Lynx 
  4. Bobcat Lynx rufus,, retrieved (October 13, 2012) 
  5. a b Animal Fact Sheet: Bobcat, 2008,, retrieved (October 12, 2012) 
  6. a b c Clark, W.R. (2011), Habitat Use and Social Structure,, retrieved (October 12, 2012)