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Bobcat (Lynx rufus) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding

Diet

Mainly small mammals

  • Rabbits, hares (e.g., Knick et al. 1984;  Maehr and Brady 1986; Fedriani et al. 2000; Thornton et al. 2004; Hass 2009; Harrison 2010; Rose and Prange 2015; Witczuk et al. 2015)
    • Very common prey, especially cottontail and snowshoe hare
    • Bobcats shift to other prey, where rabbits are scarce (Litvaitis et al. 2006)
  • Small rodents (rats, mice, voles, chipmunks, squirrels) (e.g., Rollings 1945; Knick et al. 1984; Maehr and Brady 1986; Fedriani et al. 2000; Thornton et al. 2004; Hass 2009; Rose and Prange 2015; Witczuk et al. 2015)
  • Deer (e.g., Matson 1948; Knick et al. 1984; Hass 2009; Rose and Prange 2015; Witczuk et al. 2015)
    • Particularly fawns and juveniles
  • Various other medium-sized mammals
    • Examples
      • Mountain beaver, Aplodontia rufa (e.g., Knick et al. 1984; Witczuk et al. 2015)
      • Porcupine (Rollings 1945)
      • Marmot (Witczuk et al. 2015)
      • Opossum (Jackson 1961; Rose and Prange 2015)

Uncommon diet items

  • Birds (Maehr and Brady 1986; Rose and Prange 2015; Witczuk et al. 2015; Young, Golla, Broman, et al. 2019; RP Carroll, in prep)
  • Bats (Wroe and Wroe 1982)
  • Grass or vegetation (Hall 1981; Anderson 1987)
    • Aids digestion

Feeding

Finding and capturing prey

  • Opportunistic hunter (Anderson 1987)
    • May also scavenge (Rollings 1945; Koehler and Hornocker 1991)
  • Usually hunt on the ground (Rollings 1945)
    • Rarely, climb trees to hunt
  • Hunt solitarily (Marston 1942)
    • Exception: mother and young hunt together
  • Search areas thoroughly for prey (Rollings 1945; Hall 1981, except as noted)
    • Check hiding places
    • Often develop and use well-established hunting routes (Rory Carroll, personal communication, 2020)
    • Follow trails (e.g., of rabbits)
    • Look around from vantage points
  • Use eyesight and hearing to locate prey (Anderson 1987)
  • Stalk prey from behind cover or crouch motionless from vantage point (Marston 1942; Rollings 1945; Matson 1948, and as noted)
    • Patiently wait, then pursue with a burst of speed
      • Can sustain short chases only
    • May attack while prey rest or sleep (McCord 1974a)
  • Sometimes cache/cover prey with snow or leaves (Anderson 1987)

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