Breeding season - Bobcats commonly breed in February and March.
However, variations in the breeding season are influenced by latitude,
longitude, altitude, climate, photoperiod, and perhaps prey
availability. Bobcats breed from February through July in Alabama,
peaking in March and April. In Yellowstone National Park the peak
of the breeding season is from January through early March . In the
Sierra Nevada bobcats breed from January through June, with breeding
peaking from February through May . One male generally mates with
several females .

Age at first reproduction - Female bobcats are capable of breeding at 1
year of age. Males are sexually mature at 2 years of age. Both
sexes remain reproductively active throughout life.

Gestation/litter size - Gestation is about 62 days . In Utah a
majority of young are born in April or May, and in May and June in
Wyoming. Usually two to three kittens are produced per litter,
although up to five kittens have been reported . Generally, only one
litter is produced per year. The kittens are raised solely by
their mother.

Development of young - Bobcats are born with their eyes closed. Their
eyes open between 3 and 11 days after birth. Bobcats are weaned at 7 to
8 weeks of age, but remain with their mother until they disperse .

Dispersal of juveniles - Juvenile bobcats generally disperse during
their first fall. In Michigan bobcat litters may not disperse until
their first spring.

Activities - Bobcats are generally crepuscular. Zezulak found that
bobcat activity levels peaked at dawn and dusk in California. In
another California study, bobcat activity levels differed seasonally.
Bobcats were generally crepuscular during the winter, and more nocturnal
during the spring.

Life span - In the wild, most bobcats live 2 to 5 years; some
individuals live 15 years .

Bobcats are adapted to a wide variety of habitats including swamps,
deserts, and mountain ranges . Rollings stated that prey
abundance, protection from severe weather, availability of rest areas
and cover, and freedom from human intrusion were the key factors in
bobcat habitat selection in Minnesota.

Typical bobcat habitat in the North is broken country including swamps,
bogs, conifer stands, and rocky ledges. Ledges appear to be the most
important terrain feature in bobcat habitat in the northern portion of
the range, with the only satisfactory replacement being conifers in bogs
and swamps. Courtship activities are often centered around ledges.
In Massachusetts bobcat courtship was invariably performed in the
vicinity of rocky ledges. Specific habitat requirements for courtship
have not been reported elsewhere.

In the South bobcats are common in mixed forest and agricultural areas
that have a high proportion of early to mid-successional stages .
In the hardwood bottomlands of Louisiana, Hall and Newsom found
that mid-successional stages on cutover areas, characterized by
saplings, vines, and dense briar palmetto (Serenoa spp.), were the
centers of bobcat activity.

In the West bobcats prefer rocky canyons at elevations from 4,593 to
6,890 feet (1,400-2,100 m) with ledges and areas of dense vegetation.
In the southwestern and western United States, bobcats are adapted to
even the driest deserts if shade is available.

Home range - Bobcat home range estimates vary from 0.23 square mile (0.6
sq km) for California to 78 square miles (201 sq km) for Minnesota.
Females generally have smaller home ranges than males. The home ranges
of male and female bobcats may overlap, but home ranges of females
rarely overlap with each other. Seasonal range differences may also
occur. Winter ranges of male bobcats in California were up to 41
percent smaller than summer ranges. Female bobcats showed reductions in
their home range size up to 70 percent over the same period .

Denning and resting cover - Habitat features such as thickets, stumps,
logging debris, and various types of rock features serve as denning
sites and resting areas for bobcats. Rock piles or broken rocky
ledges provide important den sites and shelter for bobcats, especially
in the West. Rocky areas were the preferred den sites of bobcats in
easteren Idaho . In California small rocky areas were often used as
denning and resting sites . During periods of heavy rain or high
temperatures, bobcats used these areas for shelter almost exclusively.
Bailey noted the importance of rock piles and caves for rearing
young and for refuge in severe weather. In the northern part of the
bobcat's range, where winters are often severe, bobcats may require
underground dens to survive.

Bobcats also use brush piles, hollow trees, and logs as rest sites and
dens. Bobcat rest areas have frequently been found under low-hanging
conifer boughs . Zezulak and Schwab noted bobcats resting under
bushes and next to fallen Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) in the Mojave
Desert. In the relatively moderate climate of the Southeast, features
such as thickets, hollow stumps, and logging debris offer adequate cover
for both resting and denning.

Travel and loafing cover - Bottomland hardwoods are often used for
loafing and travel, possibly because the closed canopy and dense
midstory of these areas supply shade during periods of high temperatures

Foraging cover - Bobcats often hunt in open to semiopen areas. Bobcat
prey are generally less common in forested cover types than in
shrub/grass-forb cover types. Within the shrub/grass-forb cover types,
shrub patches or thickets are necessary cover for bobcat prey.
Favorable environments for bobcat prey (e.g., cotton rats [Sigmodon spp.]
and cottontail rabbits [Sylvilagus spp.]) in the Southeast are generally
available on clearcuts and young (less than 5-year) pine plantations .

Bobcats are found in a wide variety of plant communities including
coniferous forest, deciduous forest, mixed forest, the Everglades,
prairie and other grasslands, chaparral, sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)
scrubland, creosotebush (Larrea tridentata) scrubland, and mesquite
(Prosopis spp.) scrub .

Bobcats do show some plant community preferences. They commonly occur in
areas with a mosaic of different plant communities and seral stages
. In Minnesota bobcats preferred areas of black spruce (Picea
mariana), northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis), and balsam fir
(Abies balsamea) interspersed with quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)
and lowland shrubs . No significant seasonal shifts in habitat use
occurred. Rollings found that in Minnesota, bobcat winter habitat
was primarily thick northern white-cedar or black spruce swamps. In New
England, bobcats were frequently found in northern white-cedar swamps
and black spruce thickets. Bobcat habitat in Massachusetts was
characterized by cliff areas, black spruce plantations, and eastern
hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)-hardwood communities .

Common tree and shrub species of bobcat habitat in the Intermountain
West include manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), mountain-mahogany
(Cercocarpus spp.), pinyon (Pinus spp.), sagebrush, and juniper
(Juniperus spp.) . In the Frank-Church River of No Return
Wilderness, Idaho, bobcats selected Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga
menziesii)/mountain-mahogany (Cercoparus spp.) communities, but avoided
Douglas-fir/wheatgrass communities. The latter communities lacked rocky
terrain and mountain-mahogany cover for bobcats . Bobcats in
another Idaho study were found in areas dominated by big sagebrush
(Artemisia tridentata) with nearby caves and sagebrush-Utah juniper (J.
osteosperma) areas near volcanic outcroppings. Most of the preference
for these habitats was accounted for by prey density and cover for
hunting and resting . In Fresno County, California, bobcats were
most common from 2,001 to 4,003 feet (610-1,220 m) elevation, with the
preferred cover types in the eastern portion of the county including
woodland-grass, pine (Pinus spp.)-chaparral, and hardwood woodland .

Bobcats are opportunistic and will attempt to take almost any prey
available, including insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and
mammals. Mammalian prey, however, is often the most common prey in the
bobcat diet. Bobcats most frequently kill animals weighing 1.5 to 12
pounds (700 g-5.5 kg) .

Cottontail rabbits appear to be the principal prey of bobcats throughout
bobcat's range . Primary exceptions occur from Minnesota to New
England, where white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and snowshoe
hare (Lepus americanus) increase in importance .

Bobcats in the Southeast rely heavily on two species, eastern
cottontails (Sylvilagus floridanus) and cotton rats, for food throughout
the year . Cotton rats may be more important than eastern
cottontails from Florida to Louisiana. In the interior highlands of
Arkansas, eastern fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) and eastern gray
squirrels (S. carolinensis) are important foods. In the mountains of
eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, the woodland vole
(Microtus pinetorum) and various species of birds are important bobcat
prey . In the West rodents, especially woodrats (Neotoma spp.), are
often eaten .

Bobcats are not commonly preyed upon. Kittens may be taken by foxes
(Vulpes spp. and Urocyon spp.), owls (Strigidae), mountain lions (Felis
concolor), coyotes (Canis latrans), and adult male bobcats. Bobcats may
also be killed or injured by prey animals. Bobcats are hunted and
trapped by humans .

To enhance and maintain habitat quality for bobcats, managers should
maintain a mosaic of cover types with early to mid-successional stages,
maintain cover adjacent to preferred physical features (e.g., cliffs),
and maintain vegetation in riparian areas and ridgelines to enhance
dispersal .

Habitat management favoring bobcats is possible in areas managed for
timber production. Generally, small mammal populations peak 1 to 3
years after clearcutting and planting and decrease sharply thereafter.
Clearcutting "small" blocks of timber interspersed with forested areas
provides good habitat for small mammals and therefore good foraging
habitat for bobcats. Delaying the canopy closure of newly planted
stands promotes small mammal abundance for longer periods. Canopy
closure can be delayed in several ways, including increased spacing (to
approximately 10 feet [3 m]) of original planting, and early and
extensive thinning .

Response to human activities - Bobcats appear capable of dealing with
moderate human influence on the environment. Their populations are
stable in the United States, except in areas of intensive farming and
dense human populations, such as in the Midwest and along the central
Atlantic coast in Delaware and New Jersey. In Canada, bobcats are
expanding their range into many areas that previously supported only
lynx .

Bobcats often use recently logged areas and farms, because logging and
farming practices often provide food and cover for prey species.
Agricultural land that is so extensive as to eliminate rocky ledges,
swamps, and forest tracts is not used by bobcats. Bobcats show little
or no aversion to human dwellings or equipment; in fact, one bobcat
frequently rested within 200 feet (61 m) of an occupied dwelling.
Resting bobcats often respond to motor vehicles and logging activities
by moving a short distance and resuming their rest .

Depredations - Bobcats occasionally prey upon livestock . Gashwiler
and others allege that bobcats often hunt around lambing grounds,
but domestic sheep remains were found in only 1 of 53 bobcat stomachs.
Only 1 of 222 ewe losses to predators in 1973 through 1975 in Idaho was
attributed to a bobcat .

bay lynx

There has been much debate concerning the taxonomic classification of
bobcats. Bobcats have been classified as both Lynx rufus (Schreber)
and Felis rufus Schreber . This write-up follows
Hall , using Lynx rufus as the scientific name for bobcat. Hall
recognizes 12 subspecies:

L. rufus baileyi Merriam
L. rufus californicus Mearns
L. rufus escuinapae J. A. Allen
L. rufus fasciatus Rafinesque
L. rufus floridanus Rafinesque
L. rufus gigas Bangs
L. rufus oaxacensis Goodwin
L. rufus pallescens Merriam
L. rufus peninsularis Thomas
L. rufus rufus
L. rufus superiorensis Peterson and Downing
L. rufus texensis Mearns

Bobcats hybridize with lynx (Lynx lynx).

(Source US Forest Service)