What Are They Like?
The bobcat is the most common wildcat in North America and is named for its short, white bobbed tail. They measure 2-3.5 feet (0.5-1.5 meters) in length, and can weigh up to 28 pounds (13 kilograms). Bobcats have sharp claws that allow them to climb trees easily, and their short, dense fur ranges in color from beige to cinnamon-brown with dark brown spots or black stripes. They can live up to 13 years in the wild, and 32 years in captivity.
Where Do They Live?
Bobcats can be found throughout North America from southern Canada to Northern Mexico, though they have been expanding farther north in Canada due to global warming. They are very adaptable and their habitats include forests, swamps, deserts, and, on occasion, scrublands. They have even been spotted in developed regions.
How Are Babies Made?
Bobcats typically reproduce once a year and their breeding season takes place in early spring. After a gestation period of 60-70 days, a female will give birth to a litter of one to six kittens. Young bobcats stay with their mother for up to eight months.
What Do They Eat?
Bobcats are specialists and strictly carnivores. They feed primarily on rabbits, rodents, ground birds and even small deer. Bobcats have also been recorded eating small domesticated animals.
What Do They Do?
Bobcats are solitary animals and roam over large areas of land in search of food. Females and males interact almost entirely during mating season. They are mainly nocturnal and begin their hunting as early as dusk.
How Concerned Should We Be?
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists the bobcat as "least concern." Their wild population is presently stable and slowly increasing; however they still face many threats. Hunting Bobcats for the fur trade is legally controlled in 38 U.S. states and seven Canadian provinces, but they are also illegally hunted in Mexico as trophies. While hunting is a major concern, habitat destruction due to increasing development is the primary threat to the bobcat population.
What's Being Done?
Defenders of Wildlife has joined with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife to track and monitor bobcat habitats and movements in order to prepare and execute a protection management plan for the most crucial habitats. The Mexican bobcat is also listed as an "endangered species" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Arizona Game and Fish Department: Bobcat
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