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Bobcat - Lynx rufus

By: C.M.Shorter

Bobcats are Survivors! This animal once inhabited every type of terrain throughout its territory range and is one of the most successful of all wild cat species. They are one of four Lynx sub-species with a stable population remaining in western North America, southern Canada and Mexico. Previous territory once spanned the entire United States. Their fur is soft, dense light gray in color to reddish brown with the pelt being darker along the back with a white underside which is usually spotted. The Bobcat does have a "bobbed" tail perhaps an evolutionary adaptation to extreme cold conditions. Ears are large, somewhat like the elongated ears and tufts like our Caracals which act as radar and noise buffers. Their ear tufts are much smaller than that of their cousin, the Canadian Lynx as is the ruff framing their face. Our Bobcat has a sturdy, muscular build with hind legs slightly longer than their forelegs. This is one handsome animal with piercing yellow-brown eyes.

Bobcat Pictures

Their outstanding feature is their beautiful fur coat. It is so lush and beautiful this animal was hunted and harvested for the fur trade in untold numbers. Today they have a reduced range and are not suited to survive in the cold northern Canadian climate. The Bobcat has been virtually eliminated from much of the mid-western United States due to this type of hunting. In the past 20 years, the Bobcat has been the most heavily harvested and traded species of any cat. More than half of the world's legal fur trade resulted in pelt taken from the North American Bobcat and Lynx. As with so many of our Wild Cats, their territory has diminished significantly as a direct result of human expansion and the subsequent loss of prey.

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The Bobcat is one tough Wild Cat! They are very secretive and adapt well to human disturbances adapting well to altered habitat. They hunt by day or night, opportunistic in every way when it comes to their next meal! They survive taking prey such as small mammals, birds, eggs, frogs, and domestic livestock. Despite their small size they are effective hunting the larger ungulates, especially deer which are usually killed when resting. Mainly a ground dweller, they are capable of climbing trees with ease and are known to be excellent swimmers. The largest of all Bobcats is found in Canada and the smallest make their home in Mexico.

Primarily a solitary Wild Cat territories do overlap with males establishing ranges overlapping those of several females. Female ranges are more exclusive and territory specific. At maturity, young female Bobcats are known to seek a territory range close to their mothers. Bobcats are kept in high numbers in captivity. Captive breeding has a low success as they do not rear young well in these artificial type environments.

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Scientific Name: Bobcat, Lynx rufus
Sub-Species Classification: Lynx belong to the family Felis. Classification and territory range:
Canadian Lynx as Lynx canadensis (Northern North America & Canada)
Spanish Lynx or Spotted Lynx as Lynx pardinus (Southern Eurasia)
Bobcat as Lynx rufus (Small Lynx of North America & Canada)
Eurasian Lynx as Lynx lynx (Northern Eurasia)
Common Name(s): Bobcat, Red Lynx, Bay Lynx, Wildcat
Range: Southern Canada, Western USA, Mexico
Average Weight: 6 - 13 kg (14 - 30 lbs)
Length: 75 - 124 cm (30 - 50") Short "Bobbed" Tail (7-12")
Diet: Carnivorous. Small mammals - mice, rabbits & hares, birds, carrion, eggs, frogs, reptiles and small domestic livestock. May take young wild ungulates.
Gestation Period: 50 - 70 Days. Eyes open at 8-9 days. Nursing for 3-4 months with the mother taking them along for their first hunting lesson at the age of 4-5 months.
Cub Maturity: 12 - 24 Months
Cubs Per Litter: 1 - 6 Kittens (usually 2 -4 kits)
Lifespan: 12-13 years in the wild. Large number maintained in Zoos with poor reproduction ratios due to their inability to adapt to these man-made environments being shy, secretive animals. Recorded to live over 30 years in captivity.
Predators: Man - Heavily hunted and harvested for the fur trade.
Social Structure: Solitary. Breeding: Males multiple mates, Females are Monestrous (single male mate).
Territory Size: Prey abundance regulates density. Territory varies from 1 to 7 Bobcats per square mile.
Conservation Status: CITES Appendix II. Protected in only 10 of the United States, regulated hunting and trade in Canada. In Mexico hunting is regulated but shooting of livestock predators is permitted.

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