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Bobcat

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A bobcat photographed at Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois

About the Bobcat

Bobcats are elusive and nocturnal, so they are rarely spotted by humans. Although they are seldom seen, they roam throughout much of North America and adapt well to such diverse habitats as forests, swamps, deserts, and even suburban areas.

Bobcats, sometimes called wildcats, are roughly twice as big as the average housecat. They have long legs, large paws, and tufted ears similar to those of their larger relative, the Canada lynx. Most bobcats are brown or brownish red with a white underbelly and short, black-tipped tail. The cat is named for its tail, which appears to be cut or “bobbed.”

Diet

Fierce hunters, bobcats can kill prey much bigger than themselves, but usually eat rabbits, birds, mice, squirrels, and other smaller game. The bobcat hunts by stealth, but delivers a deathblow with a leaping pounce that can cover 10 feet.

Population

Bobcats are solitary animals. Females choose a secluded den to raise a litter of one to six young kittens, which will remain with their mother for 9 to 12 months. During this time they will learn to hunt before setting out on their own.

In some areas, bobcats are still trapped for their soft, spotted fur. North American populations are believed to be quite large, with perhaps as many as one million cats in the United States alone.


WATCH: Bobcat vs. Salmon

A bobcat made a rare daylight appearance around a stream in Washington State’s Olympic National Park this week. The occasion: the annual salmon run, in which hundreds of thousands of fish make their way up the park’s rivers to spawn.