Bobcat Felis (Lynx) rufus
The most common wild cat of North America can be found in various areas, from arid lands to marshy lowlands and subtropical, coniferous and broadleaf forests; bobcats may often be seen in the villages and even in towns. The bobcat resembles typical lynx but is significantly smaller than its European counterpart: its body length is 60 to 100 cm, and it weighs about 6 kg (sometimes up to 14 kg). Considering that the bobcats do not need to walk on the deep snow, it is not surprising that their legs are shorter, and the paws are not as wide as those of the European lynx; besides, the fur of the bobcat is thinner and shorter, as are the tufts on the tips of its ears, and it has a longer tail (Pictures 1-6). This carnivore feeds mainly on small mammals, including rodents (voles, rats, squirrels, rabbits, and porcupines) and lagomorphs, but can sometimes kill birds (wild turkeys, domestic chickens) or white-tailed deer, as well as snakes, bats and insects; occasionally the bobcat may eat plants (fruits). In the periods of decreased prey base, the bobcat can live on carrion stealing the animals caught in the traps. However, the favorite prey of the bobcat is cottontail rabbit. This wild cat watches and listens for its prey from its hidden shelter, then stalks and attacks a victim. While hunting, the bobcat can jump over large barriers at a high speed. Like all stalking carnivores, the bobcat needs to sustain an ideal condition of its fur; a series of figures demonstrates how meticulous is a bobcat when it is washing itself (Pictures 7- 25).
The home territories of the males usually overlap those of several females, and a male may mate with any of them. Females build dens in the caves, stone piles, or tree holes. After 50 to 70 days of pregnancy a female gives birth to 1 to 6 cubs weighing 100-300 g, and the mother alone is taking care of the cubs. The cubs begin coming out of the den at the age of three months always following after the dam, and at the age of five months young bobcats hunt together with their mother. Young bobcats become independent after the next breeding season, but they keep staying together for a little while longer.