Bobcat (Felis rufus or Lynx rufus)
WHAT DO BOBCATS LOOK LIKE? Bobcats are about 2 feet tall and weigh 20 pounds. They are bigger than a house cat, but they are too small to hunt and eat people. They are usually light brown to reddish brown. Their fur is spotted when they are babies, but the spots fade when they grow up. Bobcats have very short tails, only three to seven inches long. Like house cats, they keep their sharp claws inside their toes. So when they leave a footprint, the claws dont show. Dog toenails do show up in footprints, so thats a good way to tell them apart. Bobcats are curious, like cats, but they are very shy and never come up to people. They do not make good pets. Bobcats have very sharp teeth and are carnivorous (eating only meat.) The bobcats scientific name, Felis, has to do with the cat family (felines). The scientific name for the house cat is Felis catus!
HOW DO THEY HUNT? Bobcats like to live in woods or grassy areas. They usually live alone on a territory that is from 5 - 50 miles long. They are nocturnal (night animals), and many of their prey are night animals too. They eat rabbits, rats, squirrels, ground birds, turkeys, and even small or sick deer. Sometimes they will kill and eat chickens or lambs on a farm. Bobcats can only eat about 3 pounds of meat at a time, so if they get a big animal like a deer, they will drag it to a safe spot and cover it up. Later they will come back, eating again and again, until the meat rots. They see and hear very well. This helps them hunt. The soft pads on their feet help them to sneak up on an animal quietly. Bobcats also hide in a bush and leap out when a rabbit or a squirrel runs by. They use their claws to catch the animal, then kill their prey by biting the animals neck. Bobcats can run at up to 30 miles per hour, but they would rather walk. They put their back feet in the same spots where their front feet stepped. That way, they dont make so much noise by snapping extra twigs under their feet. Bobcats climb well. They can also swim, but they prefer not to do it.
WHAT ABOUT BABY BOBCATS? Bobcats like to den under fallen logs or under the root mass of a fallen tree. When the mother has babies, she has to find a dry den that her babies will be safe in. In the spring, two or three kittens are born. Only the mother takes care of them. As they grow, she will bring live animals (like mice) back to the den, so the kittens can practice hunting. When the kittens are two months old, they dont need milk any more and can eat grown-up food. They stay with their mother until the fall. By then, they are half-grown and weigh about twelve pounds. They are ready to live on their own. Bobcats live to be ten or twelve years old.
Animal Tracking and Behavior. Donald & Lilian Stokes. Little, Brown and Company. Boston. 1986.
Complete Guide to Game Animals. Leonard Lee Rue III. Grolier Book Clubs, Inc. USA. 1981.
The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals. Alfred A Knopf, Inc. New York. 1993.
Provided by the E. Dale Joyner Nature Preserve at Pelotes Island
JEA** St. Johns River Power Park **FPL
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