Lynx rufus

Author: Nessie O'Neil

Meet the Bobcat

Bobcat Classification

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Genus and Species: Lynx rufus

a photo of a pet bobcat

Bewildering Bobcat Facts

a photo of a pet bobcat

Least Concern

15-40 lbs
18-24 inches at the shoulder

7-10 years in the wild
18-25 years in captivity

The bobcat is native to a wide range of habitats across North America, including forests, swamps, deserts, and urban fringes. Their adaptability to diverse environments, from the dense underbrush of woodlands to the rocky terrains of mountainous areas, makes them the continent’s most widespread wildcat.

Bobcats are able to survive for long periods without food, but will eat heavily when prey is abundant. During the lean periods, bobcats will often prey on larger animals and store the food for later. These animals prefer to hunt and eat mammals weighing less than 13lbs, however they can take down much larger prey if needed.

Bobcats are named for their black tipped, stubby tail

Distinct Features of the Bobcat

The bobcat gets its name from its bobbed or ‘bob’ tail, which is typically only 4 to 7 inches long. Adults weigh between 15 to 40 pounds, with males generally being larger than females. When it comes to camouflage, bobcats are experts! Everything about the coloration of their coats exists to let them disappear. The spotting and barring pattern on a bobcat allows them to blend in with the ecosystem around them. Additionally, their lighter, spotted belly helps break up the shape of their body to make them even harder to spot! Because they rely on their coat for camouflage, a bobcat’s coloration will differ depending on where they live. For example, bobcats out in the desert will be more of a sandy orange color.

Diet and Hunting

Bobcats are able to survive for long periods without food, but will eat heavily when prey is abundant. During the lean periods, they’ll often prey on larger animals and store the food for later. They prefer mammals weighing less than 13lbs, however, they can take down much larger prey if needed.

Bobcat Behavior and Reproduction

The bobcat is a crepuscular species, meaning they are most active during twilight. They can travel up to 7 miles a night. However, they are confined to a well defined territory, that they mark with feces, urine and clawing the trees in the area. Like most felines, the bobcat is usually solitary, but ranges often overlap.  Males are more tolerant of others, while females rarely wander into others’ ranges.

Bobcats will generally begin breeding by their second summer, and most mating takes place during February and March.  Bobcats will mate with several different mates, and females raise their young alone. They’ll generally have anywhere from one to six kittens, and they are born in April or May.

Bobcat Conservation

While bobcats are not currently listed as endangered, they face threats from habitat destruction, hunting, and vehicle collisions. In some regions, they are hunted for their fur, and in others, they are seen as a threat to livestock and are killed as a result.

Conservation efforts focus on habitat preservation and educating the public about the importance of these animals in maintaining a balanced ecosystem. As apex predators, bobcats play a crucial role in controlling the populations of other species, thus promoting biodiversity.

Don't Be Afraid of Bobcats!

Although you should always give them space, humans do not need to be afraid of bobcats. Being attacked by a bobcat is extremely rare, and the animal is not considered a significant rabies vector.

Bobcats as Pets

Bobcats: Cuddly housecats of vicious carnivores? While bobcats are certainly misunderstood creatures, going so far as to compare them to a housecat is a bit of a stretch. As with any exotic pet, these animals are not for everyone. If having a pet bobcat is truly something you are interested in, then continue on!

Our Bobcats

A photo of a pet bobcat at an animal rescue in tennessee
a photo of a bobcat staring into the camera on a black background at a sanctuary for pet bobcats

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