Bobcat

In Agricultural and Residential, Grasslands and Scrub, Mammals, Slough Life by Administrator

Photo by Malone Hodges

Quick Facts

Scientific Name:Lynx rufus
Family: Felidae

Found at Elkhorn Slough

Uplands, grasslands

Did you know…

Bobcat’s ears are tipped with wisps of hair that are thought to act like antennae to enhance hearing.

The bobcat is roughly twice the size of an ordinary house cat, standing about two feet tall from shoulder to foot and can weigh 20 to 30 pounds. Their ears show a central white patch that can mimic widely spaced eyes and are tipped with wisps of hair that are thought to act as antennae and enhance hearing. Tufts of fur on their face give the cat a jowly appearance, as if it has chops or bushy sideburns.

A bobcat’s optimal habitats are brushy stages of low and mid-elevation conifer, oak, riparian, and piñon-juniper forests, and all stages of chaparral. Which makes the Elkhorn Slough watershed a perfect home for this animal. Here at the Slough it has been seen all around the Reserve – in woodlots, occasionally glimpsed from trails as it disappears into brush, crossing the grasslands near the Visitor Center, and Hummingbird Island. In the watershed it is seen throughout the uplands including crossing through residential and agricultural lands.

Bobcats are carnivorous (meat-eaters), usually eating small mammals, especially rabbits, also skunks, raccoons, moles, and squirrels as well as birds and reptiles. A bobcat may occasionally hunt large prey such as deer, waiting until they are bedded down.

They have the greatest range of all Native American cats. Originally in all 48 contiguous states, and parts of Canada and Mexico, bobcats no longer occupy the Great Lakes region and the Ohio and Mississippi valleys where agriculture and development have eliminated scrub and woodland cover. Their individual home rangevaries from less than one square mile to more than 20 miles, depending on the season and the scarcity or abundance of prey. They are solitary animals except when cubs remain with their mother during their first year to learn to hunt before establishing their own territories.

The bobcat’s short (4.5″ to 6″) tail is thought to give the cat its name. They have long legs, and their extra-long hind legs give the bobcat a lolling or “bobbing” gait. They are short-winded runners, but they have a powerful pounce that can cover 10 meters or 3 feet at once!

Bobcats are nocturnal, though they may be active during daylight where protected. They have been hunted for their fur as well as being incorrectly blamed for livestock kills.

Coyotes and humans prey on bobcats. Bobcats are listed under Appendix II of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. Loss of habitat to urban and agricultural development threaten these animals.

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