Home (Nature of Science) Deer Habitat Grey Fox Habitat Turkey Habitat Skunk Habitat Black Bear Habitat Otter Habitat Red Wolf Habitat Panther Habitat Alligator Habitat Bobcat Habitat

What Is Their Place in Nature?

Bobcats have an important position in the food chain. They are opportunistic and prey on many species of mammals and birds. Bobcats are strictly meat eaters—their main diet staples are rabbits and rodents, but they also eat small hoofed mammals, large ground birds, and sometimes reptiles, bird eggs, road kill, insects, porcupines, and even deer.

Are They Endangered?

Bobcat populations have managed to remain strong despite threats. In the 1970s, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) stopped sales of leopard, cheetah, ocelot, and other spotted cat skins, which led to increased hunting of the bobcat. Luckily for the bobcat, interest in wearing fur has declined. Today, most bobcat subspecies are not considered endangered. The Mexican bobcat, which lives in central Mexico, is the only subspecies that is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The bobcat is not on the state of Florida’s endangered species list.

Foxes, coyotes, bears, large owls, and adult male bobcats prey upon bobcat kittens, but cougars and humans are the only real threats to adult bobcats.

What Kinds of Adaptations Have They Made?

One of the bobcat’s strengths is its adaptability. Bobcat populations survive in many different types of environments, and can even flourish near urban and suburban areas (although they are very reclusive and therefore aren’t seen much). Bobcats need thick vegetation that is close to the ground, with patches of openings that allow them to stalk prey to hunt successfully. Even environments that are heavily influenced by humans can provide these characteristics. Scientists are studying bobcats that are moving back into territories that they had abandoned.

Researchers have found that high levels of biodiversity are linked to the presence of carnivores in an environment. This means that the ability of bobcats to thrive in areas in which humans have made great inroads may help increase biodiversity. However, we don’t know how much and in what ways habitat destruction will affect the bobcat. For example, the conversion of forests and grasslands to farms can disperse the prey that bobcats need to survive.

How Do They Hunt?

The bobcat hunts mostly by using sight and sound, and usually sits or crouches until it identifies potential prey. To hunt small prey, the bobcat will remain motionless until the animal comes close enough, and then the bobcat will pounce on it. The bobcat hunts medium-size animals by stalking them until they are close enough to dash toward, and then the bobcat will pounce. Bobcats can also ambush prey by jumping from a tree. They will attack animals that are much larger than they are (like deer) when the prey animals are asleep.

For more information, see the References and Further Reading page.