Lee Richardson Zoo


Order: Carnivora - felines, canines, bears, raccoons, mustelids, seals, etc.

Family Felidae - Cats

Scientific Name:  Lynx rufus (sometimes -Felis rufus)
DescriptionA medium-sized cat with a short, round face, very short tail, long legs, and a white belly with black spots.  The ears are usually black with a white band or spot on the back, and frequently have a tuft on the end.  A ruff extends from the ears to the chin.  Coloration varies from buff, to brown, gray, or reddish-orange, and is often streaked or spotted with darker shades.  In some parts of their range, solid black individuals have been found.  Total length is 36-46 inches.  Bobcats resemble the Lynx, which is found in more northerly latitudes, but bobcats are usually smaller with smaller feet and shorter ear tufts.


Home Range:  Most of North America from Southern
Canada through Central Mexico.


Habitat Type:  They live in a wide variety of habitat
from forest, to mountain, semideserts and brushlands.


Reproduction:  Peak breeding season is February through May, but may begin as early as January and last through August.  Females may breed twice in a year.  Gestation is 63 days and litters range from 1-7 (usually three) kittens.  Kittens are born with eyes closed and leave the den at about 5 weeks of age.  They are weaned at two months.  Kittens begin hunting with their mother at 3-5 months and disperse at 7-9 months of age. 


Diet in the Wild:  Varies seasonally and with prey availability.  Preferred prey varies from rabbits and hares to deer (usually injured or young) with rodents and other small mammals occasionally taken.


Diet in the Zoo:  Processed carnivore diet (Nebraska brand).


General Information:  Female bobcats will not tolerate another female in their range, but males may tolerate other males.  Young who cannot establish a territory may remain transient.  Range size varies with available prey and is typically larger in arid grassland than in forests.  Mainly nocturnal, bobcats spend their days in one of several dens that may be scattered about their territory.  Feces, urine and scratch marks are used to define territory.
            Bobcats are not generally threatened, but are listed in CITES Appendix II so that trade in furs can be monitored.  The Mexican subspecies is listed as Endangered.  Most states have a limited bobcat season; however, the market price for bobcat fur has declined drastically since 1995 when European countries banned import of fur from animals harvested with leg-hold traps.


Predators:  Pumas are the only natural predator, though coyotes have been known to tree bobcats.



Mammals in Kansas.  James W. Bee et al. 1981. University of Kansas Press. Lawrence, Kansas. Pp. 214-216.

Walkers Mammals of the World Volume I. Sixth Edition. Ronald M. Nowak. 1999. Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, Maryland.  Pp. 808-809.