Lynx rufus

Quick Bio for Bobcats:

Status: Least Concern
have from 1-6 cubs, usually 3
Weight: 4-15 kg
Diet: Carnivore

Physical description of Bobcats

Bobcats are significantly lighter and half the weight of their northern cousins, the Canadian lynx. Up to a meter long and half a meter at the shoulder they weigh up to 15 kg. The tail is a noticeable 15 cm, which is extremely short for a cat.

A bobcat (Lynx rufus) stands atop a log, seeking a better vantage point to survey its surroundings.
Licensed from Shutterstock
A bobcat (Lynx rufus) stands atop a log, seeking a better vantage point to survey its surroundings.

Distribution and habitat of Bobcats

The Bobcat is the more southern of the two lynx family cats in North America. It is found in the southern part of Canada, and throughout the US, downwards to Mexico. The range of the bobcat overlaps that of the Canadian lynx in the North and in the Rockies.

The bobcat habitat is highly varied. The cat is found across North America. It survives comfortably in most habitats, from forest to brush and arid areas to the high Rockies. The more arid South West US and Mexico have, commensurate with drier regions, a lower population density.

The Bobcat (Lynx rufus), known for its climbing prowess like many other cats, often ascends to gain a strategic vantage point for spotting prey.
Licensed from Shutterstock
The Bobcat (Lynx rufus), known for its climbing prowess like many other cats, often ascends to gain a strategic vantage point for spotting prey.

Bobcat behavior

Activity among bobcats is primarily nocturnal. However, it is possible to see them during the dusk and dawn hours as well.

Home ranges can be as small as one sq km but are generally larger. Territory is marked by use of urine and scent glands. Males, despite being solitary, tend to have a territory that overlaps that of multiple females. The number of females it shares territory with is somewhat of a success marker for males.

Being solitary, contact with each other is minimal despite overlapping territories. As such, vocalizations are kept to a minimum with the exception between mother and young, and during mating season.

Territory marking is applied with scent, and subsequently, the bobcat has an acute sense of smell. Comparative to predator species, their vision and hearing are also well-attuned.

What do Bobcats eat?

Bobcats are carnivores. Akin to the similarly small Iberian Lynx, they tend to kill with a single bite to the neck vertebrae, rather than suffocating their prey like larger cats.

Prey is generally smaller rodents, though birds (easily accessible ones) and reptiles are also targets. When necessary, young deer are considered a good food source.

In certain circumstances, domestic animals, especially poultry, are also part of a bobcat’s diet.

Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are often found in California. This one has been successful on a hunt of the California ground squirrel.
CC License, image by Alan Schmierer
Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are often found in California. This one has been successful on a hunt of the California ground squirrel.

Mating and Parental care of Bobcats

Being a cat expert is relatively easy if you simply learn which species is non-solitary. Bobcats, comparable with others, live alone and only commingle for mating.

This is typically during spring so that the kittens are born two months later, at the optimal time for the mother to find extra prey. They are nursed for the first six weeks and then fed from the mother’s kills. Remaining with the mother until they have learned to hunt, at about eight months of age, the cubs leave her. Independence brings with it a solitary existence until they mate, in a cycle that repeats itself.

The Bobcat (Lynx rufus) ranges across North America, enduring harsh winters in certain regions. This image displays a rare mutation, often referred to as a blue bobcat, which gives the fur a blueish-grey tone.
Licensed from Shutterstock
The Bobcat (Lynx rufus) ranges across North America, enduring harsh winters in certain regions. This image displays a rare mutation, often referred to as a blue bobcat, which gives the fur a blueish-grey tone.

Who preys on Bobcats

Being similar in size with the majority of predators in their ecosystem, bobcats are relatively safe from most creatures, with the exception of humans. Whilst cougars, wolves and bears are larger, the bobcat is not in frequent contact with these larger predators.

Their kittens, though, are not so safe and need to be protected by their mothers from coyotes and foxes.

How long do Bobcats live?

Bobcats’ lifespan is usually 12 years in the wild.

The bobcat (Lynx rufus), also known as the red lynx, is a medium-sized cat native to North America. It ranges from southern Canada through most of the contiguous United States to Oaxaca in Mexico.
Licensed from Shutterstock
The bobcat (Lynx rufus), also known as the red lynx, is a medium-sized cat native to North America. It ranges from southern Canada through most of the contiguous United States to Oaxaca in Mexico.

Impact of Bobcats on the human economy

The bobcat was very important to the first explorers of the North American interior. The fur has been used by humans since they arrived in the Americas and was further exploited by the early European settlers.

They are still extensively hunted for fur. With protection only in a few US and Canadian provinces, the majority still permit hunting and exploitation, and consequently they are probably the most legally-hunted cat species.

While humans have a significant impact on bobcats, bobcats don’t affect our lives very much. Bobcats rarely attack livestock, but in some suburban areas in the Southeast US, they are increasing in numbers, leading to more domestic pets being killed for food. However, these are relatively rare occurrences in urban spaces.

Being small, the bobcat is a minimal threat to humans. Although unprovoked attacks have been known, these incidents have been caused by rabid animals, which are not common. Most bobcats will quickly retreat when they encounter humans, and most often before the human is even aware of it.

However, when they do attack, they can be ferocious, going straight for the jugular. Repercussions of a bobcat attack are infection or rabies rather than serious physical injury.

Bobcat (Lynx rufus) sits calmly amidst the tranquil forest surroundings, displaying quiet grace and natural beauty.
Licensed from Shutterstock
Bobcat (Lynx rufus) sits calmly amidst the tranquil forest surroundings, displaying quiet grace and natural beauty.

Conservation status and human impact on Bobcats

There is one subspecies, the Mexican bobcat, Lynx rufus escuinapae, which is also endangered. It lives in Central Mexico.

The bobcat is one of the two most numerous wild cat species on the planet. There may be up to one million of them living in the US alone. However, the distribution isn’t evenly spread, as they are more commonly found in some areas than others.

Bobcat in French, German, Spanish ...

Latin Name
Lynx rufus
Alternative Names
Bay Lynx, Lince Americano, Lynx Roux
French Names
Lynx Roux, Chat Sauvage
German Names
Rotluchs
Spanish Names
Lince Americano, Gato Montés, Lince, Lince Rojo
Swahili Names
Linksi-nyika

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