Bobcats are cute, wild, and yet ferocious medium-sized cats that live just about anywhere in North America. There are two main types of bobcats, categorized by which side, east or west of the Great Plains, they live. However some people believe there are up to 9 different types of bobcats, but they are not officially recognized.
Are you ready to dive in and discover where bobcats are located and more fun facts about these wild short-tailed cats?
Where Are Bobcats Located in the U.S.?
There is an estimated 1 to 2 million bobcats in the U.S., but where? Are they in all states? Interestingly, bobcats live almost everywhere in the continental U.S., except for Delaware. Before the 1850s, many bobcats were roaming the state, but the population is locally extinct because many forests were cleared and swamps drained. However, each year there are some unofficial reports of one or two bobcats roaming Delaware neighborhoods. You can find healthy and stable bobcat populations in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and Washington state. It is not endangered but still protected in Ohio, New Jersey, and Indiana.
Where Do Bobcats Hide During the Day?
Bobcats rarely venture into loud neighborhoods and active areas since they are solitary animals. So, where can you find them during the day? First off, bobcats are nocturnal and are mainly active at night. This is where they do the majority of their hunting. Since they sleep during the day, you can find them hiding in their dens. Bobcats sleep about 2-3 hours at a time in their dens. They also have multiple dens within the same area they mark as theirs. Bobcats mainly hide in hollow trees, rock crevices, and abandoned beaver dens. While rare, some bobcats do venture out in the morning to hunt and find themselves in neighborhoods.
What Environments Do Bobcats Live In?
You might be surprised to find out that bobcats adapt quickly to new environments, which is why you can find them in 47 of the continental states and regions of Canada and Mexico. Bobcats prefer living in heavily wooded forests, but they also live in mountainous regions, deserts, and coastal swamps. Bobcats look for places where they can blend in, and there are healthy populations of animals in their diet, like rabbits and squirrels.
What Do You Do if You See a Bobcat?
It’s very unlikely a bobcat will attack you. They are medium-sized cats who are more afraid of you than you are of them. With that being said, you still shouldn’t try to pet or bother them. Instead, maintain a distance from them. If they look like they are ready to pounce, make as much noise as possible in their direction, this will scare them off. For example, clap loudly, bang your feet, or play loud music or noise from your phone. The most important thing to remember is to not turn around unless they are completely out of sight. They can jump from behind and surprise you. Also, it’s important to not run. Ignore your flight instincts, this can trigger a bobcat also to run and attack.
Do Bobcats Attack Pets?
Yes, they do. Small-sized feline and canine breeds. Most times, they may wander into urban areas in search of a mouse, reptile, or squirrel. However, being opportunistic, the sight of a small pet in the vicinity is also likely to pique their interest. Especially if they happen to be below 30 pounds. Included in that high-risk bracket are pets such as Bichon Frises, Chihuahuas, French Bulldogs, Malteses, and Pomeranians. Supremely small feline species include the Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, and Singupura.
Felines are known for their impressive agility, and it’s no different for bobcats. These wild predators are capable of scaling a wall to get to any furry or feathered residents they feel capable of taking on. Never leaving any food or water outside, or letting your pet out alone are measures which you can take to protect them. Noise and motion-activated deterrents can also help in discouraging a bobcat from lurking on the premises in search of a meal.
Where Are Bobcat Populations Decreasing?
The bobcat population is stable, but in ten states it’s decreasing enough that they are regionally protected. Some states that protect the decreasing population include New Jersey and New Hampshire. Bobcats aren’t very well-equipped to live in heavy snow and have the highest populations in warmer areas like Florida.
What Big Cats Are in the USA?
Bobcats are not the only wild cats in the United States. Other common big cats are jaguars, Canada lynxes, ocelots, jaguarundis, and mountain lions. Jaguars are the only big cat species found in North America. However, they are endangered, with only a few sightings in southwestern states like Arizona and Mexico. It was first listed in the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1972. North American jaguars are not picky and will hunt any vulnerable prey in their path.
The Canada lynx, despite its name, is found in the United States, specifically in Alaska, Minnesota, Maine, Washington, Idaho, and Colorado. Their population varies, as they are frequently moving, looking for their main food source, snowshoe hares. Like bobcats, they have short tails. Ocelots are rare. Experts predict there are less than 100 left in the U.S., but they are not endangered since many ocelots remain in Argentina.
Not many people have ever heard of the jaguarundi. This wild cat is native to the Americas and barely grows past 15 inches long. They are agile and slender with red or grey coats. While rare in the U.S., some reports suggest feral jaguarundi live in Florida. They are regionally extinct in Texas, but some people have allegedly spotted them near the border. Mountain lions are some of the most common wild cats in the U.S. Historically, mountain lions occupied the entire United States coast-to-coast, but now are found in 15 states, including Florida, with a small endangered population.
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