The lone wolf of the lynx family
If you see a bobcat in the wild, consider yourself lucky. They are one of the more elusive finds among relatively common North American animals.
More than 1 million bobcats live in the United States, Canada and Mexico, but they are rarely spotted because they roam – and hunt – almost exclusively at night, and are notoriously skittish and avoid humans. They also are extremely solitary and territorial animals, so seeing more than one at once is almost unheard-of.
And what you’ll see looks an awful lot like a common house cat, only about twice as large. Their coats are mostly shades of brown and spotted, allowing them to blend into their natural woodland habitat.
They don’t just live in the woods, however. Unique to the family that also includes cougars and Canadian lynx, bobcats are adaptable hunters who also can flourish in a wide variety of habitats such as marshes, deserts and mountains.
While bobcats are excellent hunters, they generally are not a threat to humans. They prefer rabbits, rodents and birds, using excellent night vision and stealthy moves to sneak up on and surprise potential prey. They capture with a pounce that can span up to 10 feet.
A few other facts about the bobcat:
- The bobcat is the smallest of the four species of the Lynx genus; all four have similar characteristics.
- All cats, including the bobcat, walk in a way that their hind feet always match the print of the front feet. This is called “directly registering.” Their trail looks like it was made by a two-legged animal.
- Bobcats are very territorial, especially females. Each stake out a territory that almost never overlaps with another.
- Many bobcats have multiple dens – a primary residence such as a cave or fallen log, and then secondary areas in their territory that provide shelter and places to hunt.