It's Global Cat Day today!
Though they look cute and cuddly, Bobcats are fierce hunters. Mostly eating small mammals like hares and mice, bobcats will also hunt porcupines, snakes, and even deer. One study documented a bobcat taking down a deer eight times its size!
This opportunistic hunting style is completely different from the Canada Lynx, whose diet consists almost entirely of snowshoe hares. Although they occasionally take other prey like squirrels or grouse, Lynx are so reluctant to hunt other animals that if the numbers of snowshoe hares in an area decreases, the Lynx in the area can become malnourished!
Do you know which species of cat is pictured in the above photo?
It's a Bobcat!
Bobcats and lynx can look very similar. Sometimes, if clear identifying features aren't visible, even experts have difficulty! Generally, most of Canada has only Lynx, and much of the United States (except Alaska) has only Bobcats, but in an overlapping strip of habitat that straddles the Canada-US border, both species are present. Here are a few tips to help identify each cat:
First is their ears. Lynx have a very long, jet black tuft of fur that stands up off the top of their ears. Some bobcats can have a tiny tuft, but lynx always have a long one.
The legs and paws of a bobcat are much much smaller than those of a lynx, as seen in the photo comparison below. Lynx paws are ENORMOUS in order to act as snowshoes when hunting in deep snow in the winter.
Bobcats also tend to be mostly brown and are often quite spotted, whereas lynx are usually mostly grey with more indistinct markings. Lynx also live very high up in the mountains, where bobcats prefer valley bottoms, though there is overlap where their habitats meet.
All photos courtesy of the USFWS