Bobcat (Lynx rufus) – One of the few strictly North American members of the cat family Felidae, the bobcat ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico.
Believed to have evolved from the Eurasian Lynx which crossed the Bering land bridge more than 2.5 million years ago,
it evolved into the modern bobcat around 20,000 years ago.
A second population arrived from Asia and settled in the north, creating the modern Canadian Lynx.
The bobcat is an adaptable predator that inhabits wooded areas, as well as semi-desert, urban edge, and swampland environments.
With a gray to brown coat and black-tufted ears, it easily blends into most habitats, and strongly resembles other members of species in the Lynx genus.
It has a stubby 4-7 inch tail, which has a “bobbed” appearance and gives the species its name.
An adult male bobcat weighs between 16-30 lbs, a female around 20 lbs.
The bobcat has sharp hearing and vision, a good sense of smell, and is an excellent climber.
It can swim if it needs to, but tries to avoid water. Like most cats, it is largely solitary.
The bobcat is able to go for long periods without food, but will eat heavily when prey is abundant.
An opportunistic predator, its preference is for mammals between 1-12 lbs, such as rabbits, hares, rodents, squirrels, and birds.
Occasionally it will feed on larger animals such as foxes, skunks, and domestic cats and dogs.
On very rare occasions, the bobcat has been known to kill deer.
When it does, it eats its fill, buries the carcass, and returns to feed on it several times.
The bobcat population is not threatened at this time, with an estimated 1,000,000+ in the U.S. It is still widely hunted for fur and sport, but thus far has remained resilient.