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Cats: Felidae

Bobcat (lynx Rufus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Bobcats have a light gray to reddish brown coat covered with black spots and bars. The tip of the "bobbed," or short, tail is black on the upper side. The face is framed in bushy hair. Black ears with a white center have long hairs inside that are very sensitive to sound. A shoulder height of 18 to 23 inches (46 to 58 centimeters), thick fur, and large ears give the appearance of a larger size. Bobcats measure 24 to 42 inches (62 to 106 centimeters) in length, and the tail is another 5 to 8 inches (13 to 20 centimeters). It weighs 13 to 37 pounds (6 to 17 kilograms).

Geographic range: Bobcats are found in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Habitat: Bobcats inhabit coniferous forests, mixed coniferous and deciduous forests, swamps, and desert scrub. They prefer thick

Bobcats eat mainly hares and rabbits, but also prey on deer, which they can take when the deer are resting. (Erwin and Peggy Bauer/Bruce Coleman Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

understory (short vegetation under taller trees) for the cover provided by the dappled shade of tall trees.

Diet: Bobcats mainly eat rabbits and hares. They also feed on rodents, large birds, snakes, fruits, and carrion. They prey on deer, which are taken when resting.

Behavior and reproduction: Bobcats are active at all hours, but most active at dawn and dusk. They are good climbers and may rest in trees. They are also excellent swimmers. Bobcats scent mark territorial boundaries with urine and feces. They are solitary, except when mating and raising young. Males have several partners. An average litter consists of two to three kittens, which stay with their mother for nine to ten months. Young females stay close to their mothers' home ranges, while young males may travel far to establish their own territories.

Bobcats and people: In the 1960s and 1970s, bobcat furs were in high demand due to restrictions in the trade of other cat furs. Demand for the furs continues, and research regarding the harvest of bobcat fur continues as well.

Conservation status: The bobcat is not a threatened species. ∎



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Web sites:

"All About Tigers." The Tiger Information Center. http://www.5tigers.org/Directory/allabouttigers.htm (accessed on June 23, 2004).

"Cheetahs in a Hot Spot." Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Nature. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/cheetahs/index.html (accessed on June 23, 2004).

"Great Cats." Smithsonian National Zoological Park. http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GreatCats/catfacts.cfm (accessed on June 23, 2004).

"Species Accounts." IUCN Species Survival Commission: Cat Specialist Group. http://lynx.uio.no/catfolk/sp-accts.htm (accessed on June 23, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsCats: Felidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Cats And People, Lion (panthera Leo:): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS