The bobcat is also called the red lynx. The animal roams from Oaxaca, Mexico up to southern Canada and throughout the United States. There are two subspecies that are officially recognized and eleven that are not. The formal ones are classified by habitat and found either east or west of the Great Plains. The unofficial bobcats are found predominantly in the western parts of North America.
The Lynx genus shares a natural group with the Puma and Felis. It dates back to over seven million years ago. A divergence occurred around three million years in the past. The bobcat evolved from the Eurasian lynx after it crossed the Bering Land Bridge into North America during the Pleistocene (Ice Age). The cats moved into the southern half of the United States. Glaciers cut off their access to the north. The modern bobcat appeared less than twenty thousand years ago.
Bobcats have retractile claws. They leave tracks between one and three inches with four toe marks. The claws are absent. Walking and slow trots space the indentations eight to eighteen inches apart. Running strides increase the positioning to four to eight feet apart. The total area is a half inch larger than a traditional feral or hosue cat track. The hind prints register on top of the fore prints.
Adults are under two feet on average. Their stubby tail is less than eight inches and bobbed, hence the name. The top of their shoulders stand one to two feet from the ground. Males weigh fourteen to forty pounds. The lighter ladies weigh under thirty-three pounds. The boys average twenty-one pounds. The lasses average fifteen. The largest measured on record was forty-nine pounds. Unverified sightings have been documented up to sixty pounds, but are pure speculation.
Canadian and New England bobcats are the largest. The smallest are found in the southern Appalachian Mountains. The difference is consistent with Bergmann’s rule, which states that populations and species are larger in colder environments. Bobcats are the smallest in the genus Lynx. Their fur color is varied. The most common is brown and gray with black streaks across the body and solid dark bars against the tail and front legs. The pointed ears are tipped in black. Their spotted pattern serves as camouflage.
The chin, belly and lips have an off-white coloring. Desert cats have the lightest coats. The animals in the northern forests are the darkest. Kittens are adorned in spotted fur at birth. Melanistic bobcats are rare and have been captured in New Brunswick, Canada and Florida. Some spots are present in the all-black coat. The face appears wider than it is from the ruffs of extend hair under the ears. Their eyes are round and yellow with midnight black pupils. The nose is an adorable red and pink.
Bobcats can survive for long swaths of time without food. They eat large amounts when prey is plentiful. Big animals are targeted and stored for future use when sustenance is scarce. They are opportunistic hunters that stalk their prey before an ambush. It is followed by a light chase and pounce to secure the kill. Mammals between one to twelve pounds are their favorite. Small meals include mice, muskrats, moles, squirrels, fish, birds, small sharks and insects. Minks, martens, skunks, domestic cats and dogs, raccoons and foxes are mid-sized. Pigs, sheep, goats and other small ruminants are the largest.
The average lifespan is between seven to ten years. The oldest found in the wild was sixteen. The record in captivity is thirty-two years old. Bobcats are capable of breeding by their second summer. Some females start during their first. Dominant males travel with their chosen female and mate with them several times from winter until the start of spring. The range varies by location. February and March are the most common. Sometimes they split apart and take other mates. Males are less faithful.
Pregnancy lasts for two months. One to six kittens are born in April or May in an enclosed space such as a hollow log or cave. Another litter may arrive in September. The kitties open their eyes by the tenth day. The mother raises them alone. They begin to explore their habitat at four weeks and can eat alone after two months. Travel with mom begins sometime during the third and fifth months. Everyone can hunt alone after their first birthday. Eagles, foxes, bears, and owls are their main predators. Adult bobcats are not targeted. They can still fall victim to larger predators when fighting over carcasses or politics.
|L. r. rufus||Eastern Bobcat (East of the Great Plains, United States)|
|L. r. fasciatus||Western Bobcat (West of the Great Plains, United States)|
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Good information. We’ve been trying to see one of these elusive animals for a long time. For now we will keep looking.
Good luck on your search!
Thank you. We will be going to some places where bobcats might live, so maybe we will come across one.
Simply lovely. We’ve had one visit our yard when the creek flooded. They are such cool cats!
They are indeed!
Excellent post. Great photos. I have seen many Bob Cats in our area. I live at the foothills of the Ozarks of Arkansas, and the beginning of the notorious Cookson Hills of Oklahoma.
As a side note strictly in an attempt to introduce a note of levity, “Most Bob Cats are not named, Bob.”
Have a great day.
Very cool! Levity make the world turn. Thanks for sharing and have a great day as well.