Introduction to Bobcat – Problems and Solutions


Bobcats (Felis rufus) and lynxes (F. lynx), which are closely related to one another, can be found living across the entirety of North America. Bobcats can be found across the majority of the United States and even into southern Canada, whereas lynxes are typically found in greater numbers in northern regions. It is believed that early settlers drove both species out of large portions of the Midwest, which led to their extinction. However, there is some debate as to whether or not the animals ever actually lived in that region. These animals will typically avoid inhabited areas, but they will occasionally venture into residential yards.

Due to its similarity in size to the cougar and the housecat, the bobcat is frequently misidentified. On the whole, males are larger than females, and some of them can grow to be as big as a female cougar. The fact that some females are smaller than a large housecat only adds to the confounding nature of the situation. However, with some practice, an observer can tell the difference between a housecat and a bobcat by the bobcat’s larger bones and more muscular body structure. Additionally, the bobcat’s short tail is tipped with dark fur, whereas the cougar’s tail is long and sweeps back and forth.

In general, male bobcats from a given region are about a third larger than their female counterparts who live in the same region. The average weight of a female is less than 20 pounds, and some weigh as little as 10 or 11 pounds (well within the same range as the housecat). On a frame measuring between 30 and 36 inches, men typically weigh around 25 pounds on average.

As long as there is some kind of cover available, bobcats are able to live in a wide variety of different types of habitats, ranging from sparsely wooded areas and open grasslands to brushland and semiarid deserts. The primary home range of a bobcat can range anywhere from less than one square mile to more than one hundred times that amount of space, depending on the individual bobcat. The home range of a female is private, while a male’s territory may overlap with that of multiple females and even, on occasion, that of other males.

Bobcats are carnivores that are capable of hunting animals ranging in size from rodents as small as shrews to adult deer. Prey ranging in size from that of a cottontail rabbit (which weighs approximately 2 pounds) up to a raccoon is generally preferred (10 to 15 pounds). If the prey is too large to consume in one sitting, it may be concealed beneath leaves or other plant material and then eaten over the course of several meals.

Bobcats are diurnal, meaning that they only breed during the late winter and early spring months. Courtship and mating are typically the only stages of a male and female’s relationship that continue beyond the initial stages of breakup. The gestation period for a bobcat litter is approximately sixty days, which is comparable to that of a domesticated cat. On average, a litter will have two to four baby kittens. It’s possible for a female bobcat to have multiple litters in a single year if the conditions are right. By late fall or early winter, the young are typically able to care for themselves.

The bobcat’s habitat consists almost entirely of rocky ledges. They offer a place of refuge, protection, and den space for the purpose of giving birth to young and rearing them. Sometimes hollow trees and logs are used, but this is only done in situations where a rocky ledge is not available.

Problems and Solutions

Bobcats are responsible for very few problems that are experienced by humans, and the species almost never kills domestic livestock. Bobcats are known to steal house pets, from time to time, which is yet another reason why cats should not be fed outside and should not be allowed to roam freely outside unattended. Keeping your housecat indoors is the most effective way to protect it from being attacked by a bobcat or another wild cat. By removing potential hiding places and sources of food, you can make an area less appealing to bobcats.

Sightings and visits from these animals are uncommon because their typical home ranges cover such a large area. However, they are an essential, if not fundamental, component of the natural order that maintains the balance. Due to the fact that they are carnivores and prefer to eat rabbits and rodents, they are able to contribute to maintaining a healthy population of these other animals.

This article was taken with the author’s permission from the website of the Humane Society of the United States, which can be found at www.hsus.org.

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