Lynx rufus

Bobcats range from southern Canada to southern Mexico except for a few states in the American Midwest. They are found in a broad range of habitats: forests, swamps, grasslands, sagebrush and scrublands. They're carnivores, preferring prey species that weigh between 2 and 12 pounds.

Bobcats are named for their short, bobbed tail. Small tufts of hair on their ears act as antennae, which allows for greater hearing. Bobcats are notoriously shy and usually avoid people, but sometimes become curious about humans and pets. They may sit and observe from a vantage point, acting much like a house cat.

Bobcat behavior and facts

  • Bobcats are generally solitary, coming together during mating season or when a female is with her kittens.
  • They are active at dusk and dawn (crepuscular), when they move quietly through brushy areas in search of food.
  • They're opportunistic and will eat any prey that presents itself, including insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Rabbits are a favorite. They may eat unspoiled carrion if they encounter it.
  • Bobcats may look cuddly, but they are fierce predators who can take down a small deer.

From birth to death

  • Bobcats breed from late winter into spring.
  • Gestation: 62 days
  • 2 to 4 kittens are born per litter.
  • They are weaned at 7 to 8 weeks and leave their mother during the first fall.
  • Sexual maturity: 1 year for females; 2 years for males.
  • Lifespan: 12 to 13 years in the wild; 25 years in captivity. Sixteen years is the known record for a wild bobcat. In a zoo, a bobcat has lived to be 32 years old.

Vital statistics

  • Bobcats are about twice the size of a house cat.
  • Males are 30 to 40 percent larger than females.
  • Male weight: 16 to 30 pounds
  • Male length: average of 36 inches


CITES Appendix II

Bobcats, the Oregon Zoo and you

The zoo's bobcats live in the Black Bear Ridge exhibit. Their diet includes red meat, mice, baby chicks and an occasional quail or rat.

Bobcats at the Oregon Zoo