Bobcats are solitary animals. Males and females only associate for the brief time required for courtship and mating. Few predators other than cougars and humans are able to kill an adult bobcat. Adult bobcats may receive fatal or debilitating injuries from prey animals. Young bobcats are killed by eagles, great horned owls, coyotes, foxes, bears, and adult male bobcats.
Bobcats occur less frequently in areas of deep winter snow. Unlike lynx, bobcats have relatively small feet and snow greatly reduces their mobility and ability to catch prey. Rock cliffs, outcroppings, and ledges are important to bobcats for shelter, raising young, and resting sites. Large brush or log piles and hollow trees or logs are used in wooded areas.
Bobcats can be various shades of buff and brown, with dark brown or black stripes and spots on some parts of the body. The tip of the tail and the backs of the ears are black. They have short ear tufts, and ruffs of hair on the side of the head, giving the appearance of sideburns.
up to 3 feet (1m)
20-30 pounds (9-13 kg)
up to 12 years in wild (average life span believed by many experts to be 3-4 years), but can live up to 25 years in captivity
Rock cliffs, outcroppings, and ledges are important to bobcats for shelter, raising young, and resting sites. Large brush or log piles and hollow trees or logs are used in wooded areas.
Though they can feed on something as large as a deer, bobcats typically feed on smaller animals like mice, voles, rabbits, gophers, mountain beaver, yellow bellied marmots, fawns; also insects, reptiles, birds, and carrion. Some domestic pets and animals can also become prey under the right conditions such as house cats, pigs, poultry and lambs.
SIGNS OF PRESENCE:
Because of their elusive nature and caution around humans, bobcats are seldom seen. In areas occupied by humans, these cats typically limit their activity to night hours. (In dim light, bobcats see up to six times better than humans.) In undisturbed areas, they can be active at dawn or dusk if prey is active at that time. However, bobcats may be active during any time of day. Bobcats travel in predictable patterns along logging roads, railways, and trails made by other animals to move between resting areas, food sources, or hunting areas. Evidence of a bobcat’s presence may include tracks in snow or mud, droppings, feeding areas, and claw marks on tree trunks.
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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Dept.
National Park Service
International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
Paul Tarwell, “Camping & Wilderness Survival Second Edition” (Lebanon, New Hampshire: Paul Tarwell, 2006).
Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
World Worldlife Federation