BOBCAT (Felis rufus)

*During the early 2000’s, Linda Adams, a former resident of TGO, wrote a series of articles for the TGO Nature Center titled “a Page From Nature”.  This article was a part of that series and was published in December 2001.  The original article did not include any photographs so I added a photo taken by Dick Loehr.  (Click on the photo to enlarge.) Enjoy!


TGO Nature Center, Nature, The Great Outdoors, Titusville, Florida, Education, Mammal, Bobcat

Photo Courtesy of Dick Loehr


Bobcats are very common in the wild in Florida. Their range extends throughout most of North America and Mexico, and they are found in a number of different habitats, including swamps, forests, deserts, mountains, and agricultural areas. In Florida, they often make their dens in dense palmetto thickets. They are also common in developed areas but seldom seen, in part because they are almost totally nocturnal.

Like domestic cats, bobcats purr, and they make screaming or squealing noises when in heat. These graceful cats are twice as big as domestic cats, however, and stronger. They have bobbed tails, and their ears have tufts of dark hair at the tips.

Bobcats are strictly carnivores but have a diverse diet. They help control the populations of rodents and rabbits, their most important prey, but they also eat reptiles, fish, birds, and insects. These agile, efficient predators also get into chicken coops and kill poultry, and they may even kill deer and hogs. They sometimes prey on domestic cats, so as they move into an area the population of domestic cats living in the wild may decrease.

Bobcats are solitary animals that usually come together only to breed. They live in shifting and sometimes overlapping territories (but usually not overlapping with the same sex), up to 10 square miles for the males, which they mark with scents—secretion from their anal glands as well as their feces and urine.

Bobcats sometimes interbreed with domestic cats, but this is probably very rare, and most of these inter-breedings do not produce offspring. A bobcat is more likely to eat a housecat than mate with it. Most kittens with stubby tails are the offspring of domestic cats.

Solely their mothers rear bobcat kittens, averaging 2 to 3 in a litter. Adult bobcats rarely fall prey to other animals, but foxes, coyotes, and owls may eat the kittens, and male bobcats sometimes kill them. At about 6 months of age they disperse to find territories of their own.

Bobcats are extremely dangerous as pets because they often slash with razor-sharp claws. They are among the most dangerous of mammals to rehabilitate, and, unlike the Florida panther, it is almost impossible to tame them. They do not like to be cornered or confined; they often go crazy and badly injure themselves in live traps.

Their very soft, dense fur is reddish brown, usually, with black or dark brown markings. The color and markings vary throughout their range, however, and Florida’s bobcats are generally darker gray than those in other regions, with fewer markings. The pelts are used for hats, coats and trim.

Like every other cat, bobcats have teeth that are modified for a strict meat eating diet. They have fewer teeth, which increases the pressure exerted by each tooth, a shorter jaw for a more powerful bite, and all the teeth are sharp, including the molars. The enlarged canines are used to hold and stab the prey.

Although cute and cuddly looking, even young bobcats are rarely tamed. They are ferocious animals and considered even more dangerous than a cheetah. The male bobcat sometimes kills the female when they mate, an example of how vicious they can become when excited.

Information Source: Florida’s Fabulous Mammals)

(Column Prepared By: Linda Adams)


To see more photographs of this beautiful mammal, click on Bobcat Photo Album.


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