||The Mammals of Texas -
Carnivora : Family Felidae : Lynx
Description. A medium-sized,
short-tailed, reddish brown or grayish cat about the size
of a chow dog; upperparts reddish brown, streaked with
black; underparts whitish, spotted with black; back of
ears black-rimmed, with white in center; ears usually
slightly tufted; hair on sides of head long, producing a
ruff; pelage elsewhere rather short; tail usually shorter
than hind foot; the tip black above and white below, with
three or four blackish bars above just in front of tip;
legs relatively long; feet large, with five toes in
front, four behind. Dental formula: I 3/3, C 1/1, Pm 2/2,
M 1/1 X 2 = 28. External measurements average: (males);
total length, 870 mm; tail, 146 mm; hind foot, 171 mm;
females, 772-144-158 mm. Weight of adults, 5-9 kg,
occasionally as much as 16 kg in old animals.
Distribution in Texas. Statewide.
Habits. Bobcats occupy a variety
of habitats, but they have a decided preference for rocky
canyons or outcrops when such are available. In rockless
areas they resort to thickets for protection and den
sites. They are associated more commonly with pinyon
pines, junipers, oak, or chaparral in Texas but they also
occur in small numbers in open pine forests. These cats
are highly adaptable and in most places have been able to
cope with the inroads of human settlement.
Shy and retiring, they are active
largely at night although they frequently leave cover and
begin hunting long before sundown. In hilly country,
their presence can often be detected by their habit of
dropping their feces on large rocks on promontories or
ridges. Also, like the mountain lion, the males make
scrapes small piles of leaves, sticks, and so
forth on which they urinate along their travel
routes, but these scrapes are smaller. They den in
crevices in canyon walls, in boulder piles, or in
thickets. The dens can be readily recognized by the
strong odor emanating from them. Expert at climbing
trees, bobcats seek refuge in them when available.
Their food consists mainly of small
mammals and birds. The stomachs of 118 bobcats contained
the following (expressed in percentages): mammals, 65.8
(44.5 of which were harmful species, 20.5 beneficial, 1.1
neutral); birds (bait), 3.1; fish (bait), 0.6;
unidentified foods, 3.1; miscellaneous material (not
food), 27.1. Among the mammals, wood rats, ground
squirrels, mice, and rabbits supply the bulk of the diet.
Although deer occasionally are killed and eaten, most of
the deer meat found in bobcat stomachs has been carrion.
They also prey upon domestic sheep, goats, and poultry
but the damage done is rarely great.
The breeding season begins usually in
February, and after a gestation period of about 60 days
the two to seven young are born. Average litter size is
three. The young are well-furred and spotted at birth;
their eyes open in about 9 days. The kittens are weaned
when about 2 months old. They remain with their mother
until early fall, at which time they begin to fend for
themselves. Females do not breed during their first year,
but they may mate between their first and second years
and breed annually afterwards until 8-9 years of age.
Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife.