New Hampshire’s rocky, mountainous landscape is full of wildlife. Birds, rabbits, deer, and predators roam its wild spaces and sometimes venture into more populated areas. Lovers of the outdoors might see any number of wild animals when they hike through its forests and mountains. But today, we can only find two wild species of cat in New Hampshire—the bobcat and the Canadian lynx.
The 2 Types of Wild Cats in New Hampshire
If you see an unidentified wildcat in New Hampshire, the chances are it’s a bobcat. These beautiful cats weigh in at around 30 pounds. That’s around twice the size of a normal house cat. Bobcats have reddish-brown fur with black spots, tufted ears, and short, squarish tails. In the winter, their coats grow longer and shaggier, while their short summer coats keep them cool.
Bobcats are common throughout the state and will even occasionally venture into urban areas. They might raid dumpsters and backyards or follow after small prey that’s grown used to living near humans. Because they are mostly active at night or around dawn and dusk, they often aren’t noticed by humans around them.
2. Canadian Lynx
New Hampshire’s other wildcat species is the Canadian lynx. These cats are much rarer than bobcats—in fact, for a long time, it was thought that they were only occasional visitors to the state. In the past few years, sightings of lynx kittens have proven that New Hampshire does have a small breeding population in the north of the state. These cats live primarily in forested areas where they can hunt snowshoe hares.
Lynxes are similar in size to bobcats, but they tend to be more silver and less red. They also have longer legs and larger paws. In the winter, these paws grow a long, fluffy coat of fur that helps them walk across the snow. The telltale difference between a lynx and a bobcat is in their tail, though—lynxes will have a solid black tip at the end of their short tail.
Have There Ever Been Other Wild Cats in New Hampshire?
Although these are the only two wild cat species found in New Hampshire today, a few centuries ago, it was different. Once, New Hampshire was home to a much larger cat species, the cougar. Cougars can reach more than six feet in length and were a major menace to early settlers in the state. However, by the mid-1800s, they were rare, and today cougars aren’t found in the Northeastern United States.
If you think the cat you saw last night is just too big to be a house cat, you might be right—the chances are it’s a bobcat. These beautiful cats are a big part of New Hampshire’s ecosystem, and they’re found all over the state. If you’re really lucky, you might catch a glimpse of New Hampshire’s other wildcat—the Canadian lynx. These elusive animals are mostly found in remote areas in Northern New Hampshire.
Featured Image: detlef-bukowski, Pexels