North America is home to four species of wildcats. The Bobcat, Lynx, Ocelot and the Puma or Cougar are considered native to North America. With more and more of their natural habitat disappearing, wildcats, as well as many other types of wildlife, are coming in closer contact with man. Learn more about the wildcats of North America.
Bobcat – The bobcat is the most commonly known wild cat in North America. He is also the only species of wild cat that is not currently on the endangered list. The bobcat and the Canadian Lynx are occasionally though of as the same animal. They are both of the same family but different species. The bobcat is about twice the size of the average house cat. They have long legs, large paws and tufted ears. They get their name from the brief, black-tipped tail which appears to be”bobbed” or cut off. The”tufts” of their ears are now used like hearing aids and they have excellent vision. At once the bobcat’s territory was wide spread of the US, but their number have diminished through the years. Bobcats are nocturnal animals and are seldom seen by humans. The bobcats diet consists of rabbits, mice, squirrels, reptiles and fowl, including the farmer’s chickens. They are many times considered as a nuisance and are shot by farmers. Many hunters will also kill a bobcat as they consume the quail, pheasant and chukka that many hunters shoot for sport.
Lynx – The lynx is actually the bobcats”cold weather” cousin. They are actually several species of lynx. The Asian and European lynx are bigger that the North American species, the Canada lynx. The Canada lynx are generally found, of course, in Canada and the colder parts of the usa. The Canada lynx is about the exact same size as the bobcat, and it has tufted ears as well. Their feet are used as”snow shoes” and are bigger and have more hair for extra insulation from the cold and snow. There’s a correlation between the amount of snowshoe hares and the population of lynx. As the amount of snowshoe hares decrease, so do the amount of lynx. The larger Eurasian lynx will search for deer as well as smaller animals.
Ocelot – The ocelot is sometimes called the”Painted Leopard”. At one time they could be seen throughout the southwestern parts of the US. However because of their attractively spotted fur, their numbers have been greatly reduced and has put them on the endangered list. Sometimes you may see the ocelot in Arizona or portions of Texas. They are most commonly found in Mexico and northern parts of South America. They are primarily nocturnal and solitary creatures. The ocelot has brief tawny or reddish brown fur with black spots and rosette shaped markings. Their face has two black stripes down each side along with their tail has black bands. They may be seen in the trees, stalking birds and monkeys. Unlike most other cats, they don’t mind the water and can swim very well.
Mountain Lion – The mountain lion goes by many names. The mountain lion is a powerful and feared predator. They are located mainly in the eastern and southern areas of the US, including the swamps of Florida. They weight approximately 120-140 lbs. Mountain lions prefer to prey on deer but will also attack and eat coyotes and other mammals such as raccoons and porcupines. Their range was eliminated in the Midwest and Eastern US, although there are small populations returning the states like Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. Mountain lions have been known to attack people. However, statistics show that on average there are 4 attacks and one death annually in all of the US and Canada. Mountain lions will be more likely to attack a person who’s alone or a small child.
Few people will really come in contact with any of these wildcats in their natural habitat, but at least now you know a bit more about these great creatures.