Bobcats are generally nocturnal, although they may be active on occasion during the day. The species is territorial and persists in its home range, often requiring large areas of a habitat that support a steady food supply. They are excellent swimmers and climbers. Bobcats typically hunt rabbits, hares, rodents (especially squirrels), and birds. They sometimes eat reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and fruits. In urban areas, they are now regular scavengers.
Bobcat Facts for Kids
- They live in a range of habitats, including swamps, deserts, and even suburban areas.
- They stealthily sneak up on prey, and then they jump!
- Wild Bobcats can live up to 15 years.
- They are good climbers and swimmers.
- Most bobcats hunt at dawn and dusk.
- They are normally solitary.
Everything You Need To Know About Bobcats
They Are Very Set In Their Ways
These animals have a very set routine that they rarely ever stray from. In fact, as solitary animals, they largely stick to their own territory and will walk the same route every day in search of prey for them to hunt.
This route varies in length depending on their territory but can be anywhere from three km to eleven. Talk about creatures of habit.
Home ranges for a male can be as large as 20 square miles.
There Are Plenty Of Them
Of all the wildcats in North America (the place these animals call home), bobcats are the most prevalent. Their numbers are huge, although it’s difficult to get an exact number on their population, or even a believed estimate, because there are so many of them, and they are solitary animals that humans rarely see.
Not to mention the fact that approaching a bobcat can be dangerous. They are territorial and aggressive too. They’ve been known to hunt prey eight times their own size whenever typical prey is in short supply.
They Have Lots Of Prey Options
As we mentioned above, these wildcats are happy to attack prey much bigger than themselves if they are having trouble finding easier prey to catch.
Whenever they make a bigger kill, these animals will return to the carcass periodically to eat. Typically though, they will try to hunt much easier meals. Birds, rabbits, rodents, and small game are all easy pickings for these elite hunters.
They Are Perfect Hunters
Not only are they incredibly stealthy, but their bodies work to help with their hunts too. Their infamous spots are great camouflage in the dry mountainous forest areas or swamp environments that these wildcats call home.
They can also pounce on their prey with amazing speed and accuracy at distances of over three meters. If necessary, they can reach speeds of 50km per hour should their prey try to make an escape.
Although they can’t keep these speeds up for long periods of time, it still helps them to stop any prey from escaping their clutches.
They Are Crepuscular
If you’re wondering what that means, too, don’t worry. In order to be categorized as a crepuscular animal, they must be most active around twilight or dawn/dusk. Bobcats are most active during this time, as it tends to be a period of significant activity for the prey that they are seeking.
Just as the sun sets and begins to rise, the prey becomes increasingly active, and so these intelligent wildcats become active too, so they don’t miss out on a good meal. If the prey is in short supply, they will also hunt during the day or night – depending on prey availability.
They Are Excellent Mothers
Female bobcats will find a den when they are ready to give birth. This shelter (they like rock shelters such as a cave but can be almost anything, even hollow trees once it is secluded and covered enough to feel private) becomes their birthing place and home for the next year or so.
They can give birth to up to six kittens at a time, and mothers will spend the first year of their kittens’ lives teaching them everything they need to know to survive. Initially, she will keep them fed and cared for, but over time she will teach them how to hunt for themselves.
Their Name Makes Sense
The reason these wildcats were first given their name was because of their tail. Their slightly smaller tail (compared to domesticate cats at least) makes it seem as though their tail has been docked or ‘bobbed.’ You can probably already see where we’re going here, but because of these ‘bobbed’ tails, these wildcats became commonly known as bobcats, and their name has stuck with them ever since!
They Have A Long Life Ahead Of Them
Most of them live until around 10 or 12 years old. Not only that, but their population numbers are constantly steadily increasing, and they are of little concern in terms of their population number.
Add in the fact that they are incredibly adept hunters, avoid humans wherever possible, and are almost perfectly suited to the environments in which they live, and you can see why their lifespan is so high and why so many of these wildcats actually achieve those higher numbers too!
They Are Related To The Lynx
You might think that their closest relative is the domestic cat considering their similarities, but it’s actually the lynx that these wildcats are most closely related to. That doesn’t mean that domestic cats don’t see bobcats as similar to themselves though, in the past, domestic cats have adopted bobcat kittens when their mother has died or abandoned them. But genetically, and indeed in terms of their close resemblance, bobcats and lynxes are much closer.
They Will Mark Their Territory
Although some bobcats are forced to ‘share’ certain parts of their territory with one another, they always leave signs they are in the area as a way of scaring off others from their home.
Like domestic cats, their primary form of communication with one another is through urine. By leaving traces of urine around their territory, they are telling other wildcats that this area is theirs. But they will also leave claw marks and feces as a way of warning other animals too.
They May Be Skilled Predators, But They Are Also Prey
Surprising, considering how skilled they are as hunters, but some other animals see bobcats as good prey. As kittens, large birds can take them, such as owls or eagles, but as adults, their lives are still under threat.
If not killed in a conflict between themselves over territory, adult bobcats can often be killed by cougars and gray wolves. Although, bobcats can also escape thanks to their speed. They can also climb trees and escape through the water when necessary, although, like most cats, this wouldn’t be their first choice.
They Only Willingly Get Together To Mate
As territorial, solitary animals, they will avoid each other wherever possible. Most times, bobcats will only get together during conflicts over territory or during mating season, which tends to be in early spring, but this can vary.
During this time, they will seek each other out using vocalizations and will only stay together long enough to mate before going their separate ways. Like most animals, they will seek multiple partners during this time in order to more effectively pass on their DNA and continue their legacy.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is a bobcat’s tail?
A Bobcats’ tails are about 6 to 8 inches long. It helps them balance while they hunt for food and also makes it easier for them to jump.
How fast can a bobcat run?
Bobcats can run as fast as 30 miles per hour.
Do bobcats like trees
When threatened by a bigger predator, it will look for a safe place to hide like a tree. Once it has found a good hiding spot, it will then wait for the danger to pass.
What do bobcats eat?
They eat a variety of foods, but usually, it’s dependant on their location. If they are near a forest, then they can eat rodents or fish. If there is a lot of water associated with them, then they might also hunt beavers and ducks. If they are in the mountains, they might eat rabbits.
Can you tame a bobcat?
They might appear to be tame when they are young. But, as they grow older, they will become more and more cautious. The main problem is when people keep them as pets.
It’s not a good idea to keep a wild animal as a pet. They can begin to exhibit neurotic and aggressive behavior. In the worst case, they may even attack their owners.
Why are bobcats endangered?
With the increase of habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, and possible lack of prey, bobcats are slowly but surely on their way to becoming endangered. The two biggest issues that threaten these animals are the development of human habitation in their natural habitat and the increased prevalence of diseases.
As humans encroach on bobcat habitat, these wild animals are pushed out and have to find a new place to live, and trying to find a new place with the same climate, vegetation, and food is easier said than done. Plus, they are not only limited to land but also to waterways and freshwater sources.