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Lynx rufus
(Order Carnivora; Family Felidae)

Diagnosis: The bobcat is a mid-sized feline about twice the size of the average domesticated cat. They have a gray to brownish colored coat sometimes with a spotted or speckled appearance. The bobcat has distinctive black tufts on their ears and a whiskered face. It has black bars on it’s forelegs and a black tipped bobbed tail (for which it is named).

Natural History: ​The breeding season for bobcats is from winter to early spring but they often have litters at other times of the year as well. Litters usually yield 1 to 6 kittens with a gestation period of about 2 months. Kittens start to hunt on their own around 5 months old and are evicted from their mother's den and home range between the ages of 8 and 11 months of age.  Lynx rufus​ is mostly a solitary creature that is rather territorial of its home ranges using tree clawing as well as urine and feces to claim it's territory. Males have a home range from 25-35 square miles that will sometimes overlap with other male's territory. Females on the other hand, are more territorial and do not overlap their home range with other females; they usually claim around 5 square miles as their territory. 




Distribution: The estimate of the current bobcat population is from 725,000 to 1,020,000 individuals. This species ranges from southern Canada to Northern Mexico; this includes most of the United States. 

Bobcat range
Linux rufus Distribution map. Map from Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History - North American Mammals.

Habitat: The bobcat prefers wooded areas but can be found in semi-desert, urban edge, forest edge and even swamp ecosystems. This species has adapted well to the change of the land by humans.

​Diet: Lynx rufus prefers to eat hares and rabbits but it is an opportunist and will hunt anything from small deer to small rodents and insects.

Conservation Status: Populations of the bobcat are healthy and functioning as a whole but it's habitat is becoming increasingly fragmented. The mexican bobcat is listed as endangered but at this time no other subspecies is in danger. Farmers in mexico are uneducated about the role of this species in the environment. They routinely kill bobcats on their land because they perceive them as a threat to their livestock.

Defenders of Wildlife. 2011.

Litvaitis et. al. 1986. Bobcat Habitat Use and Home Range Size in Relation to Prey Density. Journal of Wildlife Management. 50 (1) pp. 110-117.

Rollings C. T. 1945. Habits, foods, and parasites of the bobcat in Minnesota. Journal of Wildlife Management. 9(2) pp. 131-145.

Image Credits:
Lynx rufus. Photo from Free Predator Pics

Lynx rufus kittens. Photo from Patterson Images

Submitted by: Hallie Craycraft, July 2011

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
Comments can be sent to Mary Liz Jameson.
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