Weight: 15-35 pounds
Head/Body: 30 inches
Tail: 6 inches
Bobcats are indigenous to the USA. The Bobcat is a close relative of the Eurasian Lynx. Some authorities consider them to be the same species. However, in some characteristics the Bobcat is more similar to the Canadian Lynx than to Eurasian Lynx.
Bobcats are a medium-sized, short-tailed, reddish brown or grayish cat, with reddish brown upperparts, streaked with black. Underparts are whitish, spotted with black. The back of the ears are black-rimmed, with white in the center. The ears are usually slightly tufted with hair. They typically have tufts of fur on the sides of their heads. They have a rather short tail, around 6 inches long.
The bobcat is confined almost exclusively to the contiguous 48 states of the USA. The range extends south into Mexico to the river Mescale at 18° North Latitude, and north to 50° North Latitude in Canada. In the Rockies, they extend slightly further north. Bobcats are found in pine forests, mountainous regions, semi-deserts and scrublands, and subtropical swamps. They are unable to survive on the treeless Canadian prairies, or at altitudes higher than 3,600 meters. They climb trees and rocky areas for refuge.
A bobcat's food consists mainly of small mammals and birds. Although deer occasionally are killed and eaten, most of the deer meat found in bobcat stomachs has been carrion. They also prey upon domestic sheep, goats, and poultry but the damage done is rarely great.
Breeding season begins usually in February, and after a gestation period of about 60 days, a litter of two to seven young are born. Average litter size is three. The young are well-furred and spotted at birth. Their eyes open in about 9 days. The kittens are weaned at about 2 months old. They remain with their mother until early fall, at which time they begin to fend for themselves. Females do not breed during their first year, but they may mate between their first and second years, and breed annually afterwards until 8-9 years of age.
Bobcats are listed in CITES Appendix II. There are probably almost one million bobcats living in the United States. In some areas they are quite rare, while in others they have stable and sometimes dense populations. Hence, some states allow regulated hunting, while they are protected in other states.