The bobcat 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
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. Catching even a fleeting glimpse of this
secretive and beautiful creature, however, can make anyone's outdoor
experience more enjoyable.