(Lynx rufus)

Common Names:

Red Lynx


Bay Lynx


Felidae; member of the cat family


L.r. baileyi – Soutwestern US

L.r. californicus – California, Nevada

L.r. escuinapae – Central Mexico

L.r. fasciatus – British Columbia

L.r. floridianus – Southeastern US

L.r. gigas – Maine

L.r. pallescens – Rocky Mountains

L.r. peninularis – Baja California, Mexico

L.r. rufus – Northeastern and Central states

L.r. superiorrensis – North Central US

L.r. texensis – Texas, Northern Mexico

Related Species:

European lynx, Spanish lynx, Canadian lynx


Head and body 25-30 in; tail 5-6 in; 20-24 in. at the shoulder


15-35 lbs


Smallest member of the lynx genus – about the size of a chow-chow dog; size and color vary greatly with geographic range – getting smaller and lighter the further south the population; only species of lynx to have a white tip on its 6 inch long tail; the coat varies from an intense reddish-yellow brown with gray overtones to brownish gray with many small dark spots or mottling; long legs; a ruff of facial fur on cheeks and tufts of hair on the tip of each ear.


Wild –12-15 years; Captivity – 15-30 years


Historically found in Southern Canada, the entire US except the midwestern cornbelt, and south into Mexico; found throughout all the deserts of the American Southwest


Unlike other lynxes, it is not an exclusive forest dweller – live in a wide variety of habitats from the cold forests of Southern Canada to the hot and arid regions of the Southwestern US and Mexico; common around outlying human settlements; prefers brushy woodlands, rocky canyons, and rock outcroppings


About 1 million survive in Canada and the US today


Nocturnal when hunted, but abroad in the day where protected

Dirunal (morning and evening) hunting habits

Secretive and rarely seen

Lead solitary lives

Females are territorial, maintaining a home range of 2-40 sq miles

Overlapping of female territories is uncommon because they mark and patrol the boundaries

Male territories frequently overlap with other males’ and with several females’

Availability of prey is the key factor in determining territory size and overlap

Do not use all of their territory, but regularly travels circuituos routes to allow prey to recover every 1-3 weeks

Dens usually found in rocky outcroppings, abandoned burrows, thickets, and rotten snags

Expert climbers and swimmers

Short-winded and unable to sustain an extended chase

Highly adaptable

Will fearlessly attack porcupines, wolverines, and badgers to defend kittens and territory

Adult males and other large carnivores (such as coyotes, eagles and fishers) will prey on kittens

Adult bobcats are preyed upon by cougars, wolves and humans

Special Adaptations:

Excellent small game predator, with keen eyes and ears

Hairs on ear tips serve as antennae, increasing their hearing ability

Prominent ear spots that play a large role in aggressive posturing may give the impression of a wide, formidable head

The short tail is characteristic of bird-eating cats, making it easier to maneuver in thick brush


Males and females briefly seek each other out to mate

Resume solitary ways after several days together

Mate in late winter to early spring

Gestation lasts 65 days

2-4 kittens are born in a secluded den

Kittens born in April-May

One litter per year


Blind at birth, the kittens weigh less than 1 pound

Kittens are well furred and spotted at birth

Eyes open after 9 days

Not unusual for the male to provide the nursing mother with food

Kittens leave the den after 5 weeks

Mother defends the kittens and keeps the father away until they are weaned at 2 months

Disperse at 9 months

Significant mortality in young during the first winter from starvation


Uses its speed to chase down prey

Commonly lies in ambush

Prey on hares, rabbits, birds, small rodents, carrion, domestic poultry, squirrels, mice, gophers, wood rats, fish, chipmunks, the eggs of ground-nesting birds, lambs, and young deer

Will also eat fruit, such as cactus pears and wild grapes

Dependent on sight and hearing more than smell while hunting

Will only wander their territory until they feed, then find shelter to rest

Will go after beaver in shallow water

Rabbit and bobcat populations are directly related in a sinusodal cycle


Does not harm healthy game populations

Despite their reputation, actually kill very little livestock – unguarded lambs or unfenced poultry

No impact on healthy populations of game birds

Act as a check on rodent and rabbit populations

Once popular as pets, now illegal

Attacks on humans are virtually unheard-of

Territoriality means that they will NOT exceed their environmental capacity


Until 1971, the bobcat was pursued and destroyed as a pest, much like the coyote, with no regulation

When the world’s spotted cats were protected, the fur trade shifted to the North American bobcat – became the most desirable and expensive fur almost overnight

In the late 1970’s, a single pelt would sell for $145 and the annual take was over 92,000 cats

There has been no evidence that trapping has endangered the overall population, however, high demands for bobcat fur are increasing

Fur is not highly valuable, but is used for women’s fashions

Today, trapping is usually limited to a wintertime season with 80,000 trapped per year

Classified as a furbearer in 37 states, where hound hunting, trapping, calling and shooting, and hunting are allowed

Majority of the 80,000 trapped each year are caught in leghold traps

Trapped animals often suffer from frostbite, dislocated joints, fractures, amputated toes, and possibly gangrene if they escape

When they are hound hunted, bobcats will often fight back, causing serious injuries to both the cat and the dogs

In many states, they are pursued year round by houndsmen “training” their dogs

Hunting dogs will often catch and kill the trailed cat on the ground

Hound hunting was banned by an initiative in Washington and Massachusetts

In most states, there is no limit to the number of cats taken per year

The hunting season often overlaps the breeding season, further endangering the population

In hard winters, all of the juvenile cats often starve and the adults are trapped – leaving no base of animals to reproduce in the spring

Lots of illegal poaching still occurs every year

Listed as “Least concern” status

Listed under CITES as a possible candidate for endangerment by uncontrolled exploitation

Interesting Facts:

Often confused with the Canadian lynx, however a bobcat has a longer tail with a black bar on the upper side fringed with white hairs, is shorter with more slender legs and small, less thickly furred paws, and the ear tufts are less visible

Its growl and snarls are so deep and fierce, commonly mistaken for a cougar

A purring cat, rather than a roaring cat

Are vulnerable to rabies, feline distemper, mange mites, tapeworms, roundworms, lice and bubonic plague

The bobcat is more closely related to the European lynx and the Spanish lynx than the Canadian lynx – probably migrated to North America earlier than its Canadian cousin

Less secretive and more aggressive than the Canadian lynx – will actually displace lynx as it moves into an area