The bobcat, Lynx rufus, is a small-to-medium wild cat indigenous to North America and can be found across the United States, northern and central Mexico, and southern Canada. Smaller than its larger cousins, the lynx, the bobcat shares many characteristics with them including the distinctive cheek ruffs, short tail, and camouflage.
Bobcats are widely-distributed across their range, which includes most of the United States, southern Canada, and Mexico. In Canada, bobcats are observed extending their range northward as logging increases through the area. Thought to be extirpated in midwestern states like Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio as recently as 1900, bobcats have recently recolonized these areas and are now found throughout all of the lower 48 states, except Delaware. Found throughout Mexico, the bobcat is thought to be limited in its southern reach by an absence of prey species or by competition with other, ecologically similar small felids. Major threats to the bobcat include the fur trade—which is sustained by a worldwide demand for bobcat fur—and habitat loss.
The bobcat inhabits a wide variety of ecological habitats, including boreal coniferous and mixed forests, hardwood forests and costal swamps, tropical forests, deserts and grasslands, and scrubland. Only intensively cultivated areas appear unsuitable habitats for the bobcat. While they can adjust to some levels of human encroachment, studies show a preference for vegetative cover and water in areas away from human structures such as roads. Populations have been shown to decline in mature forests which no longer support abundant prey.
Similar to its close relative the Canada lynx, Lynx canadensis, the bobcat preys primarily on rabbits and other small game. Rodents are also a primary prey species. The bobcat is capable of taking down larger prey, such as small, young undulates. Studies have revealed prey includes squirrels, chipmunks, white-tailed deer, and voles as well.
Reno’s mysterious story begins in 2005 after she was hit by a car in Wendell, North Carolina. Nearby vet staff identified Reno as a bobcat. However, she may have previously been an illegal pet; her unusual familiarity with people made it unlikely that she would survive if released, so the veterinarians contacted us. We were excited to provide a home for this strange, petite bobcat girl. While she’s rather aloof and often sits with her backside facing visitors, it’s probably because she knows that she’s gorgeous! She exudes confidence. Like many North Carolina bobcats, her coat is a deep clay-brown, and she often watches the adjacent enclosures with a thoughtful expression. In particular, she seems amused by the antics of Arya and Muraco Bobcats next door.
Arya was born in 2016 and came to the Conservators Center the same year as a companion for Muraco Bobcat. Like her namesake—the secretive, sly, and lively little girl from Game of Thrones—this agile cub loves to zoom around wherever she goes. Our Arya, however, is far more friendly! She will appear next to someone in a fraction of a second for a treat or just to present her tail, as bobcats do, in greeting. It’s not unusual to hear her purring loudly over her favorite humans, especially if they bring cologne-scented enrichment. While lately she’s been nocturnal, she sometimes pops out of her denbox during the day if she sees Muraco hogging all the attention. Between the two, she definitely wears the pants...although he knows just how to push her buttons.
Muraco is our youngest bobcat, born in the summer of 2016. Extraordinarily bouncy and energetic, it's hard to keep up with him and harder still to imagine he isn't possessed by a supernatural force—especially when he uses his parkour skills to leap from the corner of his enclosure onto a platform. He loves to people-watch and inspect his two-legged family and fans while standing, to the amazement of all, perfectly still at the edge of his enclosure. There's a certain intelligence in his expression that says, "Hey, I want to know all about you weird humans. Come over here and play with me!" Arya Bobcat—his roommate—is still getting used to him; his playfulness seems to amuse her, but when he runs away with her treats, she swats his rear.