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Lynx rufus [links' roo' fuhs]


An adult bobcat is 25 to 41 inches long, not including the short, stubby tail, and weighs between 15 and 20 pounds. The fur can be various shades of buff and brown, with dark brown or black stripes and spots. The tip of the tail and the backs of the ears are black. It has short ear tufts, and ruffs of hair on the side of the head.


bobcat face

Distribution and Habitat

Bobcats are found throughout North America from southern Canada to northern Mexico. They live in a variety of habitats, including forests, semi-deserts, mountains, and brushland.


Bobcats breed once yearly, usually in early spring. Both males and females may have multiple partners. The gestation period is 60 to 70 days. Kits are born in a den, in caves, under logs, or even under barns and sheds. There are usually two kits in a litter but three or four are not uncommon. Kits are weaned at about two months, and become independent at about eight months. Males take no part in raising their offspring.


Bobcats are strictly meat eaters. Most hunting is done at night. They stalk their prey, then pounce and, if successful, kill with a bite to the vertebrae of the neck. They hunt rodents, rabbits, small ungulates, large ground birds, and occasionally reptiles.

Other Habits and Behaviors

Bobcats are solitary animals. Males and females only associate for the brief time required for courtship and mating. They are territorial, using urine, feces, and anal secretions to mark their home ranges, which may be as small as 5 miles and as large as 50 miles in diameter. A successful male's home range overlaps with those of several females, and may also overlap the territory of another male. The home ranges of females do not overlap one another.

The trails used by bobcats can be traced, not only by footprints but also by scratches on tree trunks where the bobcats have stretched and sharpened their claws.

The bobcat is a good tree climber.
bobcats are excellent tree climbers

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Mammalia
order Carnivora
family Felidae
subfamily Felinae
genus & species Lynx rufus

Funk & Wagnalls Wildlife Encyclopedia New York, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1974 (source of pictures)

Animal Diversity Web

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The Robinson Library >> Family Felidae

This page was last updated on June 22, 2018.