Did you know? The bobcat is named for its tail, which appears to be cut or “bobbed,” a barbershop word for hair that is cut short. Bobcats are the most abundant wildcat in the US.
The bobcat is a species that is native to Ohio, and one of seven wild cat species found in North America. Domestic cats belong to the same family, Felidae, as the bobcat. Prior to settlement, bobcats were common throughout Ohio, but were extirpated from the state in 1850. They began to repopulate Ohio in the Mid-1900s. Since then, this cat has been sighted more often every year and is returning “home” to Ohio.
The bobcat has short, dense, soft fur. Their coat color varies to include light gray, yellowish brown, buff, brown, and reddish brown on the upper parts of the body. The fur on the middle of the back is frequently darker than that on the sides. Under parts and the inside of the legs are generally whitish colors with dark spots or bars. The back of the bobcat’s ears are black with white spots. The top of the tip of the ears are black; on the lynx, a cousin of the bobcat, the entire tip of the ear is black.
Generally, the bobcat is a solitary animal, territorial and elusive by nature. Adult females have an extremely low tolerance for other adult females in their home range. The males of this species are more tolerant of another males within the home range.
Bobcats generally lie in wait for their prey, pouncing when an animal comes near. Prey pursuit rarely extends more than 60 feet. Bobcats are carnivores and will consume a wide variety of insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, and mammals. Rabbits and, in northern latitudes, white-tailed deer are important components of the bobcat’s diet.
Bobcats were found throughout the Ohio country in early settlement times. They were concentrated primarily in the large, lowland areas of the north and unglaciated Allegheny Plateau region of the southeastern portion of the state. As forests were cleared and swamps and lowlands drained to make way for settlements and cropland, the bobcat population declined. By 1850, they were considered extirpated from the state. From 1850 through the 1960s, there were occasional reports of bobcats, mainly in eastern Ohio. Since 1970, there have been 464 verified reports of bobcats in Ohio, 436 (94%) of which occurred since 2000. In general, bobcats showed the first signs of recovery in Ohio in the 1990s, after which numbers of sightings have steadily increased. Currently, the bobcat is officially classified as an Ohio endangered species and provided full protection under the law.
In 1997, a project was initiated by the Division to systematically monitor the status of bobcats in Ohio. This project consisted of 2 main elements: (1) initiating surveys to monitor the current status and distribution, and (2) continuing to investigate and record verified reports of bobcats as they are received.
This species occurs in the forests of eastern Ohio. The Division of Wildlife received reports of 176 unverified bobcat sightings in 2014 compared to 226 in 2013. In 2014, 197 reports were verified (e.g., road-killed, incidentally trapped, photographed, etc.), similar to the previous year (200). Because of the large amount of unoccupied, suitable forested habitat available in eastern Ohio, bobcat sightings are expected to continue to increase in future years as the population increases in abundance and distribution.
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Fun facts about Bobcats
1. Though many cats have long tails, an adult bobcat’s averages only 6 to 7 inches in length. The word bobcat a reference to his stubby tail. Hair that is cut short is sometimes called “bobbed.”
2. The bobcat is about twice the size of an average house cat.
3. Fully-grown bobcats can weigh up to 33 pounds. For the most part, they eat rabbits, birds, rodents, and other fairly small creatures. However, the cats are also extremely adept at killing adult white-tailed deer. Although they generally hunt fawns, they have been known to kill adult deer.
4. Solitary hunters by nature, bobcats lay claim to an area of land that can be anywhere from 1 to 18 square miles in size. Bobcats have a “main den” they live in. This den can be a typical cave or rock shelter, hollowed out log, or any type of place that provides protection for them. Bobcats may have several other dens for safety and protection.
Information on this page was gathered from the below website.
For more information on the Bobcat and other important Ohio wildlife visit http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/species-and-habitats/species-guide-index