Bobcats are a typical feline and much larger when compared to your average housecat. While not the biggest cat species globally or in its range, some can grow to quite a large size. Bobcats are native to North America and live in Mexico, Canada, and the United States. It is a fearsome predator throughout its range.
Bobcats belong to the genus Lynx, which has four different species. The Eurasian Lynx, Canada Lynx, and Iberian lynx are closely related to the bobcat and belong to the same genus. Bobcats are midsize and able to live in a variety of habitats. Forrest, deserts, urban areas, swamps, and rocky environments are common places they inhabit. They are the most widespread big cat in North America, found all over the continent.
Bobcats are the smallest Lynx genus member, but that does not mean all of them are small. It is easy to get this species confused with other Lynx species as they have similar traits like pointed ears, thick fur, and spots covering them. Bobcats have a short tail, which is also how they got their names. Let’s discover how large a bobcat can get and what makes this species unique.
The Largest Bobcat Ever Recorded
The largest bobcat on record weighed 52 pounds and was captured on December 31, 2008 in Wisconsin. However, like most records, there’s considerable debate around how large bobcats can actually get
Male bobcats will generally weigh between 14 to 40 lbs (6.4 to 18.3 kg), while females weigh around 8.8 to 33.7 lbs (4 to 15.3 kg). Bobcats in Northern regions are usually larger than ones found in other areas.
The largest bobcat ever recorded officially is 52 lbs (23.5 kg), which was shot in Wisconsin by a hunter. This bobcat surpassed a previous state record of a 48.84 pound cat that had been captured in 1984. However, both of these bobcats may understate how large the species can get.
Bobcats are seen to become much larger, but officially recording the data can be complex. Hunters have reported shooting cats up to 75 lbs. A bobcat weighing a reported 60 lbs (27kg) was also found in New Hampshire and documented as roadkill. With time the record for the largest bobcat will change. Some people living in areas with a large bobcat population also commonly report seeing some as large as 60lbs.
Different Types of Bobcats
Thirteen different bobcat types exist, but only two are officially considered valid subspecies: Lynx rufus rufus and Lynx rufus fasciatus. There are also 11 others categorized by the location they are found. Each subspecies only has slight differences and is around the same size. Here are the 13 different bobcat subspecies
- Lynx Rufus Rufus
- Lynx Rufus Fasciatus
- Lynx rufus gigas
- Lynx rufus floridanus
- Lynx rufus superiorensis
- Lynx rufus californicus
- Lynx rufus mohavensis
- Lynx rufus texensis
- Lynx rufus baileyi
- Lynx rufus escuinipae
- Lynx rufus peninsularis
- Lynx rufus oaxacensis
- Lynx rufus pallescens
Bobcats vs. Lynx Size
The bobcat is smaller than all other lynx species and only reaches a maximum of about 41 inches when measured from tail to nose. Measured from the ground up, bobcats will only get around 2 ft tall. Canada lynx live primarily in Canada but have a similar range as the bobcat. From a glance, Bobcats and Lynxes are pretty identical and even grow to around the same size. The Canada lynx is only slightly bigger. A Lynx has longer legs, minimal spotting, arched backs, and long feet.
The Eurasian lynx is the largest of all lynx and can reach up to 84 lbs(38kg). This species lives in Europe, Siberia, and East Asia. The Eurasian lynx is a threatened species, and only around 45,000 are estimated to exist in the world. Bobcats and lynx look similar, but bobcats are generally smaller and have a larger population.
Bobcats Compared With Other Felines
Cats come in all shapes and colors, and bobcats fall right in the middle when it comes to size. Siberian tigers are the biggest cat species globally and tower over a bobcat, weighing up to 660 pounds. The largest Siberian tiger on record lived in captivity and weighed 932 pounds, which is about 18 times the size of the largest recorded bobcat!
Finding a cat larger than a bobcat is not hard; some examples include lions, jaguars, leopards, and lynxes. Still, they are dangerous and powerful. Sharp claws, speed, and large teeth allow them to take out much larger prey.
In North America, there are around six native species of wild cats. Bobcats are the most common, but other species will grow much larger. Habitat destruction and hunting have made it rare to come across some wild cat species.
In size, how does the bobcat compare with its neighboring big cats?
List of North American Wild Cat Species:
3. Canadian Lynx
Above is a list of all wild cats found in North America, ranked from largest to smallest. Jaguars are the rarest species in North America and are considered endangered. Ocelots and Jaguarundi are the smallest species, endangered in specific areas. Bobcats and the Canadian lynx are incredibly similar in size and appearance. Canadian Lynx are generally bigger, but only by a few pounds. The size of each cat species will vary, but bobcats are usually ranked in the middle when comparing the size with local and species of the world.
Are Bobcats Rare?
Bobcats are listed as a species of “least concern” and have healthy populations within their range. Even though they are hunted in some areas, this has not contributed to population decline. Bobcats are the most common wild cat in North America, and one reason for this is their size. Bobcats are small enough not to be seen as a threat and sneak around in areas with a heavy population of humans. Attacks on humans are rare since they are shy and do their best to avoid confrontation.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jack Bell Photography/Shutterstock.com
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