Bobcats are in the spotlight today at Light Future Art! Here are some fun facts about these felines.
1. Bobcats can be found throughout almost all of North America, from Canada down to Southern Mexico. Bobcats in the North have smaller spots on their fur than those who live in the South.
2. Bobcats are nocturnal but prefer to be the most active right after dusk and right before dawn. During the day, they sleep in one of the many dens they have in their territory. Males have larger territories than females do, and the territories of one male and a few females may overlap without conflict, but they don’t socialize with one another.
3. While bobcats shouldn’t be taken from the wild permanently, some house cats have been known to care for orphaned bobcat kittens, who then grow up being comfortable being inside. Some are tempted to keep these bobcats in their homes as they grow, that isn’t wise. Bobcats are still very wild even if they grew up indoors and should be out in nature.
4. Bobcats usually stick to hunting for small mammals or lizards, but when food is more scarce in the winter, bobcats have been known to attack and take down animals many times larger than themselves, such as deer. They also can be scavengers.
5. Like most cats, bobcats hunt by stalking. They can leap up to nine feet in length and run in short bursts of 30 miles per hour.
6. Bobcats look similar to their closest relative, the Canadian lynx. There are some key differences in appearance, however: their fur is darker than the lynx’s, their ear tufts are smaller, and their tail is shorter. The “bobbed” appearance of their tail is the origin of their name.
7. Bobcats use scent marking and claw marks to define their territory and scare away intruders. When in a standoff with a rival bobcat, they will rely on body language to warn the intruder away. Very rarely do they communicate verbally with one another. When they do, they make chirping sounds or yowls.
8. While it isn’t a good idea to keep bobcats as pets, there is some evidence that people used to do just that in Illinois about 2,000 years ago (although they probably let the bobcat be wild and just cared for them). In the 1980s, a grave of a bobcat buried with beads (which may have been from a collar) was unearthed. The grave seems to indicate that the people regarded this bobcat as a family member, similar to a dog.
9. A litter of bobcat kittens is usually about four individuals. They are born blind and open their eyes after a week. They rely on their mother’s milk for the first month of their life. Female kittens are fully grown and independent at one year and males at two.
10. While stalking their prey or running, bobcats place their back paws where their front paws just were. This reduced noise and allows them to be more stealthy.
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