Bobcat Biology

Identification | Biology | Damage ID | Management | Handling

General Biology


Adult bobcats usually are solitary except during the breeding season. Bobcats do not form lasting pair bonds. Breeding typically occurs between January and June, but can be affected by latitude, longitude, altitude, and characteristics of each bobcat population. The gestation period in bobcats ranges from 50 to 70 days, with an average of 62 days. Most young are born from March to July. Bobcats weigh about ⅔ pound at birth. Litters contain between 2 and 4 kittens. Kittens nurse for about 60 days and may accompany their mother through their first winter. Although young bobcats grow very quickly during their first six months, males may not be fully grown until 1½ years and females until 2 years of age. Bobcats may live for at least 12 years in the wild.

Nesting/Denning Cover 

Bobcats den in caves, gaps in rock formations, abandoned beaver lodges, and even human-made structures.  


Bobcats are secretive, shy, solitary, and seldom seen in the wild. They are active during the day but prefer twilight, dawn, or night hours. Bobcats tend to travel well-worn animal trails, logging roads, and other paths. They use their keen vision and hearing to locate prey and enemies. 

A bobcat typically is territorial and will maintain the same territory throughout its life. Territories range in size from 1 to 40 acres. Bobcats commonly move 1 to 4 miles each day within their home range. Juveniles have been known to move up to 100 miles in search of a new territory.


Bobcats live in all sorts of habitat, from subtropical forests to high and dry rimrock. Other habitats include chaparral, wooded streams, river bottoms, canyon lands, and coniferous forests to 9,000 feet in elevation. Bobcats prefer areas where these native habitat types are interspersed with agriculture and escape cover such as rocky outcrops.  

Food Habits 

Bobcats are carnivores, capable of hunting and killing prey that range from the size of a mouse to an adult deer. Rabbits, tree squirrels, ground squirrels, woodrats, porcupines, pocket gophers, and ground hogs make up most of their diet. Opossums, raccoons, grouse, wild turkeys, and other ground-nesting birds also are eaten. Occasionally, insects, reptiles, and livestock are a part of their diet. At times bobcats resort to scavenging.