Category   Land Mammals of BC: Bobcat
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Lynx rufus

The Bobcat and its cousin, the Lynx (Lynx canadensis), are small to medium sized forest cats. The Bobcat is the smallest member of the lynx group, standing 20 to 24 inches at the shoulder and tipping the scales at about 7-9 kilograms.

The Bobcat is broadly distributed across Mexico, the United States, and southern Canada. Lynx rufus occupies the southern and central interior of British Columbia. A coastal subspecies is found as far north as Bute Inlet; its pelage is a reddish buff colour. The interior Bobcat is paler and greyer, and it may be found throughout the eastern half of the province, north to about Williston Lake.

The Bobcat is the only species of lynx to have a white tip on its six inch tail, giving the animal its name. Unlike the larger Lynx, the Bobcat has rather small feet and short legs, and does not do as well in deep snow. It chooses to live in forests where there is good canopy cover, or in some cases a warmer southern exposure. Here they hunt small mammals, birds, and even some reptiles. They are primarily nocturnal.

A litter of Bobcat kittens, ranging between one to four in number, are born in late spring or early summer after a gestation period of 50 to 70 days. They stay with their mother until their second year, when they move off to make their own way in the wild and establish their own territory.

Depending on the availability of prey, an adult Bobcat may need as much as 100 square kilometers of home territory to sustain itself, so they have to set about finding a suitable area. They are typically solitary and territorial animals, establishing their territories with scent marking. Females never share territory with each other, but male territories do tend to overlap.

The Bobcat is a secretive predator, rarely observed by humans, resulting from its diurnal hunting habits. Keen eyes and ears, ambushes and short bursts of speed make the bobcat the consummate small-game predator. The diet is based mainly on hares, rabbits, birds and small rodents, although scavenging on the remains of dead animals is an important part of the diet of a Bobcat.

Bobcat numbers appear to be stable, as the beautiful little cats go about their lives in the wilds of British Columbia.

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