Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Five things you need to know: Bobcats

(WYDaily/Courtesy of pxhere)

Yes, Virginia, we also have bobcats…though it’s quite easy to forget.

These secretive felines rarely like coming into view, so you’ll probably never see one in the wild.

But what if you do?

Here are five things you need to know about bobcats.

  1. Bobcats have other names. Its Latin name is Lynx Rufus. While the bobcat gets its name from its short, bobbed tail, it’s also known as a “red lynx” or “bay lynx.” There used to be 12 recognized subspecies, but that was challenged in 1981. Now, there are only two subspecies identified in North America, according to the Species Survival Commission
  2. They are bigger than you think. Bobcats are much bigger than a housecat. These medium-sized wild cats average about 24-40 inches in length with a weight of 10-25 pounds. For context, the typical housecat averages around 10 pounds depending on their body frame and breed.  
  3. Bobcats can live anywhere. Just don’t expect one to be strolling around suburbia. According to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), bobcats are generally found in heavily forested, mountainous or rugged terrain, but may exist in wooded districts near farms and human habitation. “They show little avoidance of any habitat type except in areas highly developed or with dense human populations,” according to Virginia DWR. The Virginia Living Museum states that bobcats can be found anywhere in Virginia from the Dismal Swamp to the mountains. 
  4. They are solitary animals. Bobcats don’t like company and they don’t need it. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, bobcats are very solitary and avoid areas that are either highly developed or have dense population. The only time bobcats interact with other bobcats is during mating season, which occurs between January and March. 
  5. They do not meow like the normal domesticated cat. In fact, bobcats rarely make sound unless they’re communicating with other bobcats during mating season, said the Chesapeake Bay Program. When bobcats do make noise, they sound similar to birds. They also make a chortle, or guttural, noise, which can sound pretty horrifying. Click here to listen to an audio clip of the mysterious cat

Here’s an extra fact: Bobcats will occasionally kill livestock, but because they are an opportunist, “the more plentiful wild animals become its staple foods,” according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR).

If you do happen to see a bobcat, give it space and it will do the same. Those with bobcat issues must contact the Commonwealth Attorney’s office in your locality for information regarding legal methods of animal removal. Local ordinances are usually more restrictive than state laws, according to the Virginia DWR. 

If you want a chance to learn more about bobcats and possibly see one in person, visit the Virginia Living Museum at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd in Newport News.

They are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For ticket information, click here


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