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The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is equipped with razor-sharp claws, needle-like teeth, and the strength to make good use of these weapons. The name, of course, is from the short, stub-like tail, approximately five inches long, which has a distinctive black tip. Bobcats vary in coloration, but are generally tawny-brown and spotted. Their under-sides are yellowish-white, spotted with black. The legs are spotted on the outside and barred with black on the inside. Bobcats can measure up to three feet in length, including the tail, and weigh 15 to 30 pounds. Bobcats are excellent climbers.
Widely distributed throughout most of North America, this cat has adapted well to civilization and is found throughout Florida. The bobcat is equally at home in deep forest, swamps and hammock land. Bobcats can range five or six square miles and generally cover their territory in a slow, careful fashion.
The female bobcat can breed after one year which occurs in late winter or early spring. One to four young are born after a gestation period of 50 to 60 days. Two to four young make a normal litter, and the newborn "kits" have full coats of spotted fur, but their eyes do not open until about nine days old. The young are weaned in about two months, but not before they are taught hunting skills by their parents.
An extremely efficient hunter, the bobcat, like most felines hunts by sight and usually at night. The bobcat feeds on a varied diet of birds, small mammals, and (occasionally) young white-tailed deer.
The Florida bobcat's unpredictable disposition does not make it a popular candidate for a pet. Nor does its strikingly marked pelt have much market value. Catching even a fleeting glimpse of this secretive and beautiful creature, however, can make anyone's outdoor experience more enjoyable.
You can receive technical assistance for bobcat problems by contacting your nearest FWC regional office.