As Seen on GMAZ: Wednesday, May 30Posted: Updated:
The Wildlife World Zoo: Bobcat
- The most common wildcat in North America, the bobcat is named for its short, bobbed tail.
- Bobcats, sometimes called wildcats, are roughly twice as big as the average housecat.
- They are medium-sized cats and are slightly smaller but similar in appearance to their cousin, the lynx.
- Their coats vary in color from shades of beige to brown fur with spotted or lined markings in dark brown or black.
- Its spotted patterning acts as camouflage. The ears are black-tipped and pointed, with short, black tufts. Generally, an off-white color is seen on the lips, chin, and underparts.
- Fierce hunters, bobcats can kill prey much bigger than themselves, but usually eat rabbits, birds, mice, squirrels, and other smaller game. The bobcat hunts by stealth but delivers a deathblow with a leaping pounce that can cover 10 feet.
- The bobcat is able to survive for long periods without food but eats heavily when prey is abundant. During lean periods, it often preys on larger animals, which it can kill and return to feed on later.
- Although they are seldom seen, they roam throughout much of North America and adapt well to such diverse habitats as forests, swamps, deserts, and even suburban areas.
- Usually solitary and territorial animals, females never share territory with each other. Male territories, however, tend to overlap. Territories are established with scent markings and territory sizes are extremely varied generally 25-30 square miles for males and about five square miles for females.
- Animals such as the bobcat are particularly sensitive to fragmentation because of their large home ranges.
- It uses several methods to mark its territorial boundaries, including claw marks and deposits of urine or feces.
- It remains in some of its original range, but populations are vulnerable to local extinction by coyotes and domestic animals.
- Each bobcat may have several dens, one main den and several auxiliary dens, in its territory.
- After a 2-month gestation period, 1 to 6 kittens are born
- The kittens begin eating solid food at around two months and begin learning to hunt at 5 months. When they are between 8 and 11 months, the kittens are evicted from their mother's territory.
- In Mexico, bobcats are persecuted as sheep predators and are frequently killed by farmers. They are still hunted and trapped for their fur throughout most of their range. Habitat destruction and the ever-expanding human population limit their ranges.
- The cat has sharp hearing and vision, and a good sense of smell. It is an excellent climber, and swims when it needs to, but normally avoids water. However, cases of bobcats swimming long distances across lakes have been recorded.
- Adults stand about 12 to 24 in at the shoulders. Males can range in weight from 14 to 40 lbs., with an average 21 lbs.; females at 8.8 to 33.7 lbs., with an average of 15 lbs.
- The bobcat is crepuscular and is active mostly during twilight. It keeps on the move from three hours before sunset until about midnight, and then again from before dawn until three hours after sunrise. This behavior may vary seasonally, as bobcats become more diurnal during fall and winter in response to the activity of their prey, which are more active during the day in colder weather.
- The average bobcat lifespan is 7 years long and rarely exceeds 10 years. The oldest wild bobcat on record was 16 years old, and the oldest under human care was 32 years.
- The adult bobcat has few predators other than humans, although it may be killed in interspecific conflict. Cougars, coyotes and gray wolves can kill adult bobcats.
The Wildlife World Zoo is located at 16501 W. Northern Ave. in Litchfield Park.
For more information on all the zoo's exciting attractions and events, call 623-935-WILD or check out their website: www.wildlifeworld.com.
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