Felis rufus


The bobcat is a predator that depends on surprise to ambush and kill its prey. Bobcats are strict carnivores and prey upon a wide variety of mammals, reptiles, and birds.

Range and Habitat

Supremely resourceful and adaptable, the bobcat thrives in habitats ranging from the dense chaparral of southern California, to the forests of British Columbia, to the citrus groves of central Florida, and to the swampy forests of the Gulf Coast. Like many animals, the bobcat especially favors the environmentally rich "ecotones," or transitional zones between habitat types, for instance, a juncture of woodlands and grasslands or of old growth and new growth.



The bobcat's varied habitats share certain characteristics, including, for instance, said Hansen, "sufficient prey, dense cover, protection from severe weather, availability of rest areas, availability of den sites, and freedom from disturbance..."

Bobcat with mouse
Bobcat with Gopher in Mouth


Hunting Habits and Diet

A Florida bobcat, for instance, may prey - often pouncing from a height - on several dozen species within its range, including wildlife such as rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, possums, raccoons, quail, jays, robins, wrens, sparrows and, occasionally, even deer. Opportunistic, it may also feed on fresh carrion. Typically, across its range, the bobcat favors the smaller mammals such as rabbits and rodents. As more of a generalist predator than its North American relatives, the cougar or the Canadian lynx, the bobcat has the ability to adapt to a wider range of habitats.




The most common predator of the adult bobcat is man. Hunters are allowed to hunt bobcats in some areas. Mountain lions and wolves are also predators. The bobcat kittens have other predators including owls, eagles, coyotes and foxes.

Appearance and Anatomy of Bobcats

  • One and a half to two times larger than a typical house cat
  • Average body length including tale is 36"
  • Average height of adult bobcat is 14-15" from ground to shoulder
  • Males range from 16 to 30 lbs, females average 20 lbs
  • Tufted ears and a tufted face both marked with bold bands
  • A "bobbed" tail that is has a light underside and bold bands on top
  • Color of fur ranges from grayish brown to tawny to dark reddish brown and lighter on the undersides
  • Dark spots in coat and dark bars on the forelegs
  • A lithe, flexible body with legs designed for climbing, pouncing and rapid acceleration.
  • Forward-facing yellow eyes with black elongated pupils

Taxonomy of the Bobcat

Kingdom -- Animalia -- All animals
Phylum -- Chordata -- Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish
Class -- Mammalia -- Vertebrate, milk-producing animals with hair
Order -- Carnivora -- Includes cats, canines, bears, badgers, weasels, skunks
Family -- Felidae -- Tigers, lions, cougars, bobcats, Canadian lynx, Florida panthers, jaguars, jaguarundis, margays, ocelots, leopards, cheetahs and domestic cats
Genus -- Lynx -- Lynx and bobcat
Species -- Lynx rufus -- Bobcat

Bobcat on the run

A Few Bobcat Facts

A bobcat leaves two-inch diameter tracks showing a heel pad, four toes and no claw marks. Its trail is very narrow because its hind feet prints lie directly on top of, or in "register" with, its forefeet prints. The trail looks as if it could have been produced by a two-legged animal. -- Deserts, Audubon Society Nature Guide, James A. MacMahon

Like all cats, a bobcat, using its whiskers like fingertips, can "feel" prey in complete darkness, for instance in a rodent burrow. If a cat's whiskers "touch a mouse, it reacts with the speed and precision of a mousetrap."-- The Magic of the Senses, Vitus B. Droscher


A bobcat consumes prodigious numbers of prey. It is estimated, for instance, that the Florida female bobcat "and the three kittens to which she gave birth at the beginning of her second year of life will consume at least 3800 cotton rats, 700 cottontail rabbits, and 3200 cotton mice by the end of her second year."-- Coryi foundation Internet site, "Bobcat Ecology," Timothy Mallow

by Jay W. Sharp

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