North America is home to four species of wildcats. With more and more of the natural habitat disappearing, wildcats, as well as many other kinds of wildlife, are coming in closer contact with man. Find out More about the wildcats of 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 double the size of the average house cat. They get their name from the short, black-tipped tail that appears to be”bobbed” or cut off. The”tufts” of the ears are actually used like hearing aids and they have excellent eyesight. At once the bobcat’s territory was wide spread of the US, but their number have diminished over the years. Bobcats are nocturnal creatures and are seldom seen by humans. The bobcats diet consists of mice, rabbits, 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 since they eat the quail, pheasant and chukka that many hunters shoot for sport.
Lynx – The lynx is truly the bobcats”cold weather” cousin. The European and Asian lynx are larger that the North American species, the Canada lynx. The Canada lynx are generally found, of course, in Canada and the colder parts of the US. The Canada lynx is about the exact same size as the bobcat and has tufted ears as well. Their feet are used as”snow shoes” and are larger and have more hair for added insulation from the cold and snow. There’s a correlation between the number of snowshoe hares and the population of lynx. As the amount of snowshoe hares decline, so do the number of lynx. The larger Eurasian lynx will hunt deer as well as smaller animals.
Ocelot – The ocelot is sometimes called the”Painted Leopard”. At one time they could be found throughout the southwestern parts of the US. However because of their attractively spotted fur, their numbers have been greatly reduced and has placed them on the endangered list. Sometimes you will see the ocelot in Arizona or parts of Texas. They are most commonly seen in Mexico and northern parts of South America. They are primarily nocturnal and solitary animals. 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 and their tail has black bands. They can be seen in the trees, stalking monkeys and birds. They also eat small mammals and rodents, frogs, fish and a number of reptiles. Unlike most other cats, they don’t mind the water and can swim very well.
Mountain Lion – The mountain lion goes by many names. They are found mainly in the eastern and southern areas of the US, such as the swamps of Florida. Mountain lions are beautiful animals with a tawny colored coat with no markings. They weight approximately 120-140 pounds. Mountain lions prefer to prey on deer but will also attack and eat coyotes and other mammals such as raccoons and porcupines. Their range has been removed in the Midwest and Eastern US, though there are small populations returning the states like Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. Mountain lions have been known to attack humans. But, statistics show that on average there are 4 attacks and 1 death each year in all of the US and Canada. Mountain lions will be more likely to attack a person who’s alone or a little child.
Few people will actually come in contact with any of these wildcats in their natural habitat, but at least now you know a bit more about these wonderful creatures.