The Bobcat is an outstanding feline. An extremely adaptable wildcat of North America, the Bobcat has managed to survive in healthy numbers in a variety of habitats, swallowing a diverse spectrum of prey, in both wild and inhabited regions. Classified in the Lynx genus, the Bobcat (Lynx Rufus) is considered generally a more successful hunter in relation to the Canadian Lynx, and is possibly the best mid-sized predator from the continent.
Twice as large as a house cat, the Bobcat weighs between fifteen to thirty pounds and is usually a few feet long. Males are generally larger. The size among subspecies is generally subject to terrain, with Bobcats in open northern areas becoming bigger than their southern counterparts. The coat is usually tan colored using a range of dark stripes on it helping the cat in its own camouflage. The characteristic feature is its little tail (up to half a foot long) that gives it the ‘bobbed’ appearance – responsible for the species’ name. Unlike other lynx cats, the Bobcat tail has a white bottom with a black stubby tip – distinguishing the cat. Despite being a little cat, Bobcat is quite muscular and its powerful, proportionately long, hind legs enable it to generate tremendous bounds of speed, reaching around 30mph!
The prey animals of this opportunistic wily hunter include insects, rodents, fish, birds, squirrels, rabbits and even deer! At times it may prey even on foxes, little dogs and house cats. The usual hunting technique is to stem the animal and let it come within twenty to thirty feet as the cat lays crouching in wait. The chase is then initiated and the prey is removed with its sharp retractable claws. The cat then bites through neck, chest or skull of the animal to kill it. In case of large prey animal, Bobcat covers it with leaves or debris to return to it over the next few days and feed. The hunting time is usually dusk and dawn, with the cat roaming freely over a few miles in its range during the evening. Despite its cute appearance, the Bobcat is a very fierce creature and is capable of creating frightening growls and snarls – misleading many to think its sounds as those of a mountain lion.
Solitary since most cats, Bobcats come together during mating. The female is the sole parent and yields three to four wolves after a gestational period of almost two weeks, though not all of the kittens make it to adulthood in the wild. The lifespan is nearly twelve years in the wild and over twenty years in captivity. Principal threats include parasites, searching humans and automobiles.
Despite voracious hunting by humans over last few decades, Bobcats’ great adaptability has allowed it to survive in the wild. In fact its achievement as a specie could be gaged by the fact that despite the wonderful value that has been put on its fur in history, it is still not concerned vulnerable as a specie by international wildlife bodies. Its unique survival instincts has even enabled it to create a market for itself around urban areas, becoming a constant threat, due to its great stealth and climbing abilities, to pets and farms . The best idea is to remain indoors to avoid Bobcats. Other alternatives include keeping a dog in the locality (Bobcats are proven to be hunted and chased up trees by dogs) and notifying the local wildlife officials. Remember it’s not interspecies conflict as in big cats, when Bobcats prey upon domestic felines, its just that house cats constitute part of the menu of these adorable predators in urban settings!