Genus and Species: Lynx rufus
18-24 inches at the shoulder
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.
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.
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.
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: 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!