Bobcat: Lynx rufus
Widely distributed throughout most of North America, this cat
has adapted well to neighborhoods throughout Florida. The bobcat is
equally at home in deep forest, swamps, and hammock land. Thick
patches of saw palmetto and dense shrub thickets are important as
den and resting sites in Florida. In rural areas, bobcats can range
five or six square miles and generally cover their territory in a
slow, careful fashion. In urban to suburban areas, the range of
territory usually decreases to 1 or 2 miles.
The female bobcat can breed after one year which occurs in late
winter or early spring. In Florida, bobcats breed from August to
March with the peak in February and March. One to four young are
born after a gestation period (the period in which offspring are
carried in the uterus) of 50 to 60 days. The average litter size is
two to three kittens, and the young have mottled or spotted fur
with more distinct facial marking than the adults, but their eyes
do not open until about nine days old. The young are weaned in
about two months, but not before they are taught hunting skills by
An efficient hunter, the bobcat, like most felines, hunts by
sight and usually at night, but seeing a bobcat out during the day
is not uncommon because they sleep for only 2 to 3 hours at a time.
Small mammals are by far the most important group of prey animals.
In Florida, squirrels, rabbits, rats, opossums, and small raccoons
are the primary prey species. Ocassionally, a bobcat will take a
feral cat, especially if there is a high population of cats in the
area. By feeding on these animals, the bobcat provides a necessary
control on their populations. Since Florida is also an important
wintering habitat for migrating birds, the bobcat's winter diet
reflects this abundance and includes ground-dwelling birds such as
towhees, robins, catbirds and thrashers. It is extremely uncommon
for a bobcat to attack a person. Like most wildlife species,
bobcats have a natural fear of people. However, they may lose this
fear if they are taught to associate people with food. FWC
recommends that all food and garbage be secured so as not to
unnaturally attract bobcats or other wildlife.
The Florida bobcat's unpredictable disposition does not make it
a popular candidate for a pet. Nor does its strikingly marked pelt
have much market value. Catching even a fleeting glimpse of this
secretive and beautiful creature, however, can make anyone's
outdoor experience more enjoyable.
You can receive technical assistance for bobcat problems by
contacting your nearest FWC regional office.