The Bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a medium-sized cat that can be found in almost all of North America. Unlike a lot of the cats that I've written about, and will continue to write about, the Bobcat still inhabits most of its original range, and in general, populations are healthy.
Coloring varies depending on subspecies type and range, but in general Bobcats are either gray or brown, although some melanistic individuals have been cataloged. They always have black tufted ears and they bear a striking resemblance to their larger cousins, the Canada Lynx. Bobcats are about twice the size of the average domestic cat, weighing up to 40 pounds(18.3 Kg) and measuring 49 inches (125 cm) from nose to the base of the tail. As suggested by their name, they have a short, "bobbed" tail, about 8 inches (20 cm) long.
There are thirteen recognized subspecies of Bobcat:
- Lynx rufus rufus (eastern and midwestern United States
- Lynx rufus gigas (norther New York to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick)
- Lynx rufus floridanus (southeastern United States up the Mississippi valley to southern Illinois and Missouri)
- Lynx rufus superiorensis (western Great Lakes area, upper Michigan, Wisconsin, southern Ontario, and Minnesota)
- Lynx rufus baileyi (southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico)
- Lynx rufus californicus (parts of California west of Sierra Nevada)
- Lynx rufus mohavensis (Mojave Desert of California)
- Lynx rufus escuinipae (central Mexico, extending to southern Sonora)
- Lynx rufus fasciatus (Oregon and Washington west of the Cascades, northwest California and southern British Columbia)
- Lynx rufus oaxacensis (Oaxaca)
- Lynx rufus pallescens (northwestern United States, southern British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan)
- Lynx rufus peninsularis (Baja California)
- Lynx rufus texensis (western Louisiana, Texas, south central Oklahoma, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila)
Bobcats are crepuscular animals, being most active in the twilight hours before and after sunset, up to around midnight. Although in some cases their behavior changes by the season, as some Bobcats become more diurnal during fall and winter in response to the activity of the available prey. They can actually survive long periods of time without food, and will gorge themselves when prey is abundant, in order to prepare themselves for lean seasons. Their prey varies by region, but in general they go after rabbits, hares, birds, rodents and other small mammals.
Female Bobcats will have a litter of two to four kittens, although sometimes as many as six. Their gestation period is 60 to 70 days, and females raise the young on their own. Bobcat territories are well-defined, and marked by urine, feces and claw marks on prominent trees.
Bobcats are not considered to be threatened, but under CITES hunting and trading of this animal must be closely monitored. Unfortunately, since people are stupid and cruel, there are many examples of Bobcat abuse, like this litter of kittens that was taken to a vet's clinic so that they could be raised as pets for the hunter's children. Three guesses as to what happened to the mother of those kittens. And in doing the research for this post, I was reminded of the extremely cruel practice of trapping, in which a frightened animal is trapped for hours, maybe days before the hunter comes back to either shoot it outright or allow dogs to tear it to pieces.
I don't hunt, and I don't care to ever try it. But if you hunt, the least you could do is nut up and make clean kills, in an attempt to minimize the suffering of the animal.