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Bobcats may be incidental carriers of the rabies virus, usually in the summer months, and have been known to attack people with impressive ferocity

Bobcat trapping, control and removal

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Captured Bobcat - © Desert Wildlife Services
Captured Bobcat - © Desert Wildlife Services

Bobcats are another species of predator that is highly adaptable and ranges throughout most of the continental United States.

In Arizona they are equally at home from the lowlands of the Sonoran Desert to the pine and fir covered mountains of the higher elevations. As with their main competitor and sometimes nemesis, the coyote, they are quite capable of living adjacent to human habitation.

Despite the fact that they are common wildlife species, few people ever see one because of their elusive nature. Adult bobcats usually weigh between 15 and 35 pounds, and are 2 to 3 feet long, including a 56 inch tail. Their coloration on top ranges from gray-brown or reddish to almost steel blue, with dark spots dappling the fur and providing an effective camouflage pattern. The belly fur is white with black spots. The underside of the tail is also white and there are distinctive white spots on the backs of the ears.

Bobcats are solitary creatures except when breeding, which can take place at any time during the year although it generally occurs from January to March. Litters of 2-4 kittens are born after a 50-60 day gestation period.

The preferred prey of bobcats includes cottontail rabbits, wood rats, and jackrabbits, with other small rodents, birds, reptiles, and occasionally deer rounding out the diet. Bobcats can and do take poultry, domestic sheep, and goats when the opportunity presents itself.

Bobcats occasionally harvest free roaming pets such as house cats and small dogs. They are armed with sharp, meat-hook claws and impressive canine teeth that do the actual killing.

Bobcat Tracks
Bobcat Scat
Bobcat Scat

Bobcats may be incidental carriers of the rabies virus, usually in the summer months, and have been known to attack people with impressive ferocity. This usually results in substantial wounds as well as the need for immediate inoculation against the disease. Bobcat territories may be as large as 25 square miles for males and 4-10 square miles for females. They make routine circuits of these areas, often taking a week or two to completely cover the area.

Bobcat are good Cliimbers
Distribution of Bobcat
Distribution of Bobcat

Stealth and patience are the two main hunting skills possessed by these wild cats. They are crepuscular, being most active a few hours before and after sunrise and sunset. Because they are in that precarious position in the food chain where they are not only predators but also sometimes prey to other species such as mountain lions and coyotes, bobcats prefer brushy, rocky habitat with escape routes. Urban and suburban habitats are acceptable because no hunting or trapping is allowed, dogs must be on leashes, and wild predator populations are minimal.

Like all felines, bobcats are inactive during much of the day. Hunting beds are often used, where a ‘cat has a good field of vision to spot prey or potential danger, yet feels comfortable enough to actually rest or sleep while waiting until hunger once again spurs it into action. The term “cat nap” comes from such behavior.

A bobcat’s eyes and ears are its most highly refined senses and it uses them to keep itself alive, either hunting or avoiding harm. Their sense of smell is not nearly as well developed, nor could it be, given the size and shape of their skulls. A coyote’s long snout holds about eight times more olfactory receptor cells than the short nosed ‘cats have room for.

Their big golden eyes are full of low-light cells called rods that allow them to navigate in the dark, and stiff whiskers on either side of the nose help to get them through tight spots when no light is available. Natural design makes the bobcat a supremely effective, resilient, and enduring top predator in whatever habitat it chooses.

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