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Bobcat: Lynx rufus

Appearance:

Habitat:

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.

Behavior:

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 their parents.

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.

Additional Information:


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