North America is home to some pretty amazing Wildcats. But what about Ohio specifically? You might be surprised to know that of all of the species that North America has to offer, Ohio only has one wildcat that calls the state home, the bobcat.
Bobcats are incredible creatures with interesting social structures, hunting patterns, and lifestyles. We are going to discuss more details about this remarkable animal in this article.
The Only Type of Wild Cat in Ohio
Not only are bobcats the only wild cat native to Ohio—they are also the most common wild cat in North America. These predators are considered small to medium in size. Some of them don’t get much bigger than a house cat, while others double them in size—it just depends on the genetic factors at play.
Bobcats fall into three categories: resident, transient, or kitten. Resident bobcats are established in a territory. Kittens are helpless, entirely in the care of their mother. Transients are adolescent bobcats making their way into the world.
Bobcats are not social creatures and spend their time alone. Female bobcats are never in the same territory, but males and females can overlap without too much of an issue. Like domestic cats, bobcats mark their territory using urine and pheromones.
Bobcat Quick Facts
|Scientific Name:||Lynx rufus|
Bobcats look like miniature versions of their cousins, the Canada lynx. These smaller cats are equipped to blend in with their environment, touting tawny coats of white, cream, beige, and browns. Rather than having a long tail, the bobcat gets its name from its stubby back appendage.
These creatures may look like lovable bigger versions of house cats, but they are fierce. Bobcats have excellent senses, including impeccable sight, hearing, and sense of smell. Together, these senses help bobcats track and catch unsuspecting prey.
Bobcats have quite a weight range, weighing between 11 and 68 pounds. So, sometimes they don’t weigh much more than a housecat. But they can get quite substantial depending on genetics.
Because Bobcats are such solitary creatures, they like to hide in deciduous woodlands, coniferous forests, and swampy areas. They like to have a den or a place to hide to keep themselves protected and hidden from potential threats.
Females and males are both nomadic, but females generally stay within certain parameters. Males will meander around in search of new mates and territory regardless of boundaries. Both will migrate with changes in food availability.
Bobcats make their homes in caves and dens. These cats are remarkable climbers, too. So, it isn’t unusual to see them in a hollow tree.
Bobcats are usually diurnal, which means they are out in the daytime. However, if a bobcat lives closer to human beings, they are much more likely to hunt at night. Once their sights are set on prey, they ambush and stalk until success or failure comes.
If they kill an animal, they will put the remains in a cache to come back for a meal when they get hungry again.
Bobcats are creatures of solitude, and it is unusual to see them together at any other season outside of mating. Both genders will fiercely protect their territory by spraying to mark their boundaries.
Male and female territories can overlap, especially during breeding. Males tend to travel in larger circles while females remain in a smaller portion of land. Typically, Bobcats aren’t incredibly vocal, but they can increase in noise levels during mating season.
Bobcats are typically very shy creatures that prefer solitude away from urban life. Although, you can see a bobcat in rural and even occasionally in suburban settings. It’s much more likely that you’ll see a bobcat if you have potential prey animals like chickens and other small poultry.
Since Bobcats are not social as we mentioned earlier, they only get together for mating purposes. Their mating patterns are much like domesticated cats in the sense that there’s a lot of resistance involved during mating and one female can have multiple partners.
Once breeding occurs, males will move on in search of other mates. Females might take other males, but that stops once her babies are born. Then, she tirelessly defends her territory and her babies.
Gestation periods and female Bobcats last between 50 to 70 days. Typically, babies are born in April, but mothers can have litters year-round. After conception, males play no role whatsoever in raising the babies.
Females typically give birth to up to four kittens per litter. The babies are born completely blind and naked, taking up to two months to wean completely. Mothers are very attentive to their young, and we’ll start teaching the babies to hunt between three to five months of age.
By the time the young Bobcats become fully independent, it’s time for them to leave their mother finally. Females can have their own litter shortly after leaving their mother, but males are not sexually reproductive until they are two years old.
Mothers teach their young kittens all the ropes, leading them to know how to find food or water. Once they have their basic survival skills and socialization down, they leave their mothers to go it alone—usually around eight months.
Typically, this is late in the winter or early the following spring after they are born. In any case, they leave their mothers before she has another litter.
Natural Predators & Prey
Bobcats enjoy a wide range of wildlife at mealtime. The most common prey for Bobcats includes rabbits, large rodents, and birds. It’s not even uncommon to hear of a bobcat trying to attack a deer.
These animals are attracted explicitly to farms as it serves as a buffet of easy meals to tackle. Bobcats are incredibly quiet, efficiently stalking their prey before attacking. Bobcats aim for the back of the neck to separate the vertebrae.
Human beings and industrialization are the biggest threat to Bobcats. By destroying their natural habitats, we force them to turn to more urban areas for food sources, leading to death.
A Little More About Bobcats
So, what else is there to know about bobcats? In the state of Ohio, here are some things that relate.
Can You Keep Bobcats as Pets?
In the state of Ohio, it is illegal to own a bobcat without a proper permit. Even still, there are very strict reasons why a bobcat should ever be in your care—and that’s not for leisure.
Unless you are a trained professional or wildlife rehabilitation specialist, there is no reason why you should own a bobcat. Unlike domesticated cats, these creatures are wild at heart and thrive best when they are able to roam freely.
If you found a litter of bobcat kittens, or you think the mother might be missing, contact a wildlife rescue near you for further instruction.
Can You Hunt or Kill Bobcats in Ohio?
Bobcats are protected animals. You cannot hunt, kill, or trap Bobcats in this state.
Native American Culture Symbolism
The bobcat shows up across Native American folklore. They are a part of legends and literature. It’s rumored that the bobcat is supposed to symbolize perception, stealth, and self-reliance.
Bobcat Impact on the State of Ohio
Ohio is proud to be home to the bobcat. It is such a beautiful creature with so much mystery. Ohio University loved bobcats so much, they even chose the bobcat to represent the college as their mascot.
So, even though Ohio only has one wildcat in the state, it sure is a lovely one. Ohio land is perfect for the bobcats, as it has just the right kinds of forests that promote a proper diet and secluded lifestyle they need to thrive.
Ohio is so proud of the bobcat, one of the major universities in the state chose the bobcat as their mascot. However, as popular as bobcats are in the state, this doesn’t mean you can own one as a pet. It’s illegal to hunt or keep bobcats without a permit.
Featured Image Credit: matt-nelson, Unsplash
- The Only Type of Wild Cat in Ohio
- A Little More About Bobcats