Elusive and nocturnal, bobcats are rarely spotted by humans. But, these adaptable creatures live in in almost all types of habitat in Arkansas.
What do they look like?
They are roughly twice the size of an average house cat with an average weight of 15 to 20 pounds but can reach 30-40 pounds. They have a short tail with a black tip above and white below. Their ears are prominent and sometimes have black tufts. The fur on the sides of the face is long and gives the appearance of sideburns. They are remarkably well camouflaged with reddish-brown, olive-brown or smoky gray fur that is spotted or streaked with black.
Where do they live?
A key to the bobcat’s success is its ability to live in many different types of habitat. They range through portions of all 48 contiguous states, plus southern Canada and northern Mexico-from bottomland hardwood forests to semi-desert in the Southwest. Bobcats occur statewide in Arkansas and have a good, stable population. Large, intensely cultivated areas appear to be unsuitable habitat for them. The bobcat is the most abundant wildcat in the U.S. and has the greatest range of all native North American cats.
What do they eat?
They are almost exclusively carnivorous and feed on rabbits, squirrels, rats, and mice. Deer, mostly carrion, are eaten in the fall and winter in conjunction with the deer hunting season. Although capable of killing a deer, they mainly go for easier prey. They hunt by stealth and deliver a deathblow with a bounce that can cover 10 feet.
Are bobcats a threat to humans or pets and livestock?
Bobcats are generally shy and very elusive. Only in extremely rare cases where they have and illness such as rabies have bobcats been aggressive toward humans. Bobcats generally mind their own business and rarely prey on livestock and poultry, although it is not unheard of. They can be quite valuable around home and farm because of the number of rabbits, rats and mice they eat.
Bobcats leave about a two-inch diameter track showing a heel pad, four toes and no claw marks. Their claws are retractable. Its trail is very narrow because its hind feet directly register into the tracks of their front feet. Thus, their trail looks like a two-legged animal produced it. If they kill a large prey item, they may cover up the uneaten portion and come back for it later.