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NATURAL HISTORY

MEXICAN BOBCAT (in Spanish, gato montes) } Lynx rufus escuinapae
FAMILY: Felidae

DESCRIPTION: The smallest cats of the Lynx genus, bobcats are about twice the size of domestic house cats. They range from nine to 30 pounds in weight and are generally smaller in the southern portions of their range. Their coats range from gray to brown, and they have whiskered faces and black-tufted ears. Bobcats have distinctive black bars on their forelegs and a black-tipped, stubby tail. Mexican bobcats are distinguished in part by their short, dense hair, which is different from the long, silky coat found on other bobcats.

HABITAT: Mexican bobcats are adapted to Sinaloan thornscrub and Sinaloan deciduous forest, making their habitat significantly different from other subspecies of bobcats further north.

RANGE: Bobcats are territorial and establish home ranges that are up to several square miles in size. A male bobcat’s home range will overlap with several females, and it may also overlap with the territory of another male. The home ranges of females do not overlap. Mexican bobcats were historically found in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Nayarit, as well as portions of Sonora, Jalisco, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo León, Hidalgo, Morelos, Puebla, Tiaxcala, Tamaulipas, Michoacan, Guerrero, Veracruz, and Oaxaca.

MIGRATION: Mexican bobcats are nonmigratory.

BREEDING: The mating behavior of bobcats is similar to that of domestic cats. Males and females only associate for the brief time required for courtship and copulation. Litter sizes range from one to six kittens, which are born with eyes closed and ears folded. Females care for their young, nursing and then bringing them meat until the kittens can be taught to hunt on their own. Kittens become independent at about eight months of age and are sexually mature in two years. Breeding can take place any time of the year.

LIFE CYCLE: Bobcats live 10 to 12 years.

FEEDING: Bobcats are strictly carnivores. They are relentless hunters, stalking their prey and pouncing with a swift bite to the neck. Mexican bobcats will hunt everything from rodents, jackrabbits, and javelinas to birds, coatimundi, and deer. Snakes, lizards, and even scorpions also provide sustenance.

THREATS: The Mexican bobcat is threatened by habitat destruction, rural development, illegal trapping and shooting, and militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.

POPULATION TREND: No population estimates are available.

Mexican bobcat photo © Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences