Bobcat

Lynx rufus
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Bobcats are elusive and nocturnal and therefore rarely spotted by humans. Although they are seldom seen, they roam throughout much of North America and adapt well to such diverse habitats as forests, swamps, deserts, and even suburban areas. Bobcats have been spotted throughout the year at various spots along the refuge's trails.

Bobcats, sometimes called wildcats, are roughly twice as big as the average house cat. They have long legs, large paws, and tufted ears similar to those of their larger relative, the Canada lynx. Most bobcats are brown or brownish red with a white underbelly and short, black-tipped tail. The cat is named for its tail, which appears to be cut or "bobbed."

Fierce hunters, bobcats can kill prey much bigger than themselves, but usually eat rabbits, birds, mice, squirrels, and other smaller game. The bobcat hunts by stealth, but delivers a deathblow with a leaping pounce that can cover 10 feet (3 meters). Bobcats are good swimmers and climbers, with excellent eyesight and hearing.

Bobcats are solitary animals, making dens among rocks or in caves. They live 10-14 years and are the wildcats most likely to be seen in North America. They live on national wildlife refuges in many parts of the United States and have the greatest range of all native North American cats. Females choose a secluded den to raise a litter of one to six young kittens, which will remain with their mother for 9 to 12 months. During this time they will learn to hunt before setting out on their own. Bobcats are usually shades of brown with spots, but there is an all-black bobcat in Florida. Bobcats are about twice the size of the average house cat.

In some areas, bobcats are still trapped for their soft, spotted fur. North American populations are believed to be quite large, with perhaps as many as one million cats in the United States alone.

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Facts About Bobcat

Diet
Carnivore

Average Life Span
10 to 12 years

Did You Know?
The bobcat is the most abundant wildcat in the U.S. and has the greatest range of all native North American cats.