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Species Description

Bobcat

Lynx rufus


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Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae

Description

Fur color varies from grayish to reddish brown, streaked and/or spotted with black. Ears and tip of the very short tail are black. Belly fur is white with black spots. This species is medium sized, from 61 - 101.6 cm (24 - 40 in) in total length and weighing from 4.5 - 11.4 kg (9.9 - 25.1 lbs). A Bobcat's legs are long in proportion to its body size. The Bobcat is the most abundant wild cat in the United States, and the species of wild cat most likely to be seen in the wild.

Life Cycle

Bobcats mate from January - August, with a peak of activity in February - May. From 1 - 7 (usually 3) kittens are born about 2 months after mating. The Bobcat makes its den in a hollow log or rocky crevice. The kittens first leave the den at about 5 weeks of age, but remain near it, and are weaned at 2 months of age. The female brings kills to the young at the den until the kittens are 3 - 5 months of age. At this time they are mature enough to follow the female while she hunts. They leave the female for good when 7 - 9 months of age.

Natural History

The Bobcat is a nocturnal hunter when it prowls for food. Rabbits make up about 50% of its diet. Rodents, birds, and young or sick deer are also eaten. The Bobcat inhabits a variety of habitats from upland forests to coastal swamps. It prefers areas with extensive thickets or dense shrubs. An individual Bobcat has a home range that may vary in size from 3.9 - 65 square kilometers (1.5 - 25.1 square miles). The smallest home ranges occur in forested areas where food is abundant. An individual Bobcat may establish more than one den within its home range and use a different one each night as it moves about its home range. Population densities have been estimated to be as high as 2 - 5 Bobcats per square mile in forested habitats. Home ranges between sexes overlap, but females will defend their territories from other females. Male home ranges frequently overlap. Aside from humans, the only natural predator of Bobcats is the Mountain Lion. Wild Bobcats have an estimated lifespan of 10 - 14 years.

Range

Bobcat Region Map This common wild cat ranges throughout the United States, and occurs in suitable habitat throughout Georgia.

Conservation Status

Bobcats are considered to be fur-bearers and in Georgia have a trapping season from December 1 through February 15.

Similar Species

The Bobcat is the only wild cat with a short tail and a spotted or striped pattern. The Mountain Lion is much larger and has a uniform tawny color and a long tail.