The Bobcat is small to medium-sized (15-40 lbs), reddish brown or grayish cat. Its ears usually have small tufts at the tips, and its fur is longer on the sides of its head than on the rest of its body, forming a ruff. They have a short tail, long legs, and large feet.
The reclusive Bobcat is active largely at night, although they frequently leave cover and begin hunting long before sundown. Like the Mountain Lion, the males make scrapes-small piles of leaves, sticks, and so forth on which they urinate-along their travel routes, but these scrapes are smaller. They den in crevices in canyon walls, in boulder piles, or in thickets. The dens can be readily recognized by the strong odor emanating from them. Expert at climbing trees, Bobcats seek refuge in them when available.
Their diet consists mainly of small mammals and birds. Among the mammals, wood rats, ground squirrels, mice, and rabbits supply the bulk of the diet. Although deer occasionally are killed and eaten, most of the deer meat found in Bobcat stomachs has been carrion. They also prey upon domestic sheep, goats, and poultry but the damage done is rarely great.
The breeding season begins usually in February, and after a gestation period of about 60 days the two to seven young are born. Average litter size is three. The young are well-furred and spotted at birth; their eyes open in about 9 days. The kittens are weaned when about 2 months old. They remain with their mother until early fall, at which time they begin to fend for themselves.
Bobcats live in a variety of habitats, but they favor rocky canyons or outcrops when they are available. Otherwise, they choose thickets for protection and den sites. These cats are highly adaptable, and in most places have been able to thrive in spite of increasing habitat loss due to human settlement.
Bobcats are distributed throughout Texas.
Information above courtesy of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Website
Bobcats are a part of the natural habitat in North Texas, but it is not unusual for them to venture into residential areas. They tend to live along creeks and avoid people. Those that do roam in to neighborhoods, or more urbanized areas, are considered to be nuisance animals due to their aggressive behavior and are targeted by the City's Animal Services department for live trapping. Trapping bobcats or other wildlife will not eradicate or eliminate the presence of a species from an area. But the hope is that increased trapping will have an impact to decrease the activity of nuisance bobcats in neighborhoods.
Tips for Deterring Bobcats
- Recommended long term solutions for homeowners involve modification of the premises. Address the factors that attract wild animals, such as gaps in construction that allow access to the attic or under the deck; eliminate thick undergrowth in landscaped areas. Modification to the environment creates an inhospitable atmosphere, and will encourages wild animals to relocate. Such changes will prevent roaming wildlife from showing an interest in staying on your property.
- In your yard, scare off bobcats that do not run away immediately by spraying them with a garden hose, banging pots and pans, and/or making loud noises and waving your arms. We have had no documented attacks on people. If the animal is confined, open a gate, have all people leave the outside area and allow it to leave on its own.
- If domestic pets are kept outdoors, keep them in a securely fenced area. But keep in mind that bobcats can climb trees and fences and can also jump up to 12 feet, so a six-foot fence may not deter them if they are attracted to something in the yard. Close or patch openings in fences. Do not leave small pets outdoors unattended. Domestic animals such as chickens and rabbits should be kept in secured enclosures with sturdy roofs.
- Walk pets on leashes, it's the law. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with small dogs.
- If you notice a bobcat while out on a walk/run, yell or clap loudly to scare it away; carry something along to make noise or something to throw, like a rock or tennis ball. In the long run it’s much safer for us, our pets and the bobcat as well—if they remain fearful of humans.
- Feed pets inside. If they must be fed outside, remove food and water bowls between feedings. Clean up spilled pet food.
- Keep covers secured on outdoor trash receptacles-- their contents may attract bobcats and bobcat prey. Take garbage out the morning of the day it is to be picked up.
- Prevent the buildup of feeder foods under bird feeders. Bobcats are attracted to the many birds and rodents that come to feeders.
- Pick fruit from fruit trees as soon as it ripens and pick up all fallen fruit.
- Work together with your neighbors. If they do things that attract bobcats, you’ll still see them in the neighborhood.
Canyon Creek Neighborhood Activity
Bobcat sightings have continued to occur in the Canyon Creek neighborhood. It is believed that this increase in activity is due to the improvement in weather conditions that is coinciding with the natural mating season of the bobcats in the area.
City of Richardson Response
The City is continuing its efforts to capture bobcats and has collaborated with a Wildlife Damage Management biologist from the Texas Wildlife Services Program operated by the United States Department of Agriculture. In addition, the City has also invested in many new traps and in technological devices designed to improve efforts. There are now 20 traps centered in a specific area where the nuisance bobcats are active and staff are checking on the traps regularly.
Recommended Protective Actions
Residents are asked to help avoid future attacks by being vigilant about pet safety. Keep all small dogs on leashes when outdoors and monitor small pets when they are in the backyard. It is also recommend that residents do not utilize dog accessible doors in their homes.
To Report a Bobcat Sighting
Residents are encouraged to report bobcat sightings or traps that have been compromised so the City may continue pursuing and capturing nuisance wildlife. The sighting information is used to help track patterns of movement. Sightings may be reported by calling Animal Services at 972-744-4480 or the City’s 24/7 Response Center at 972-744-4111. Sightings may also be reported Online or on the MyRichardson App, which now includes a Wild Animals issue on the main "New Issue" page.