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Photo: 8 facts about bobcats

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Hello, kitty! Look at this beautiful bobcat, photographed by Tony LePrieur in Weaselhead Natural Area, Calgary Canada. I was so taken by that face and how familiar it felt to this longtime companion of domestic cats that I got lost in the rabbit hole of bobcat facts. Since I know I'm not the only cat lover around here, I thought I'd share.

For those of us living in cities, it can be easy to lose touch with the fact that North America is crawling with wildcats; the bobcat being the most common. Found from Canada to Mexico, there are an estimated one million of the short-tailed beauties in the wild. Here's what else I learned about Lynx rufus.

1. These medium-sized cats and are similar to their cousin, the lynx, but a bit smaller. At 11 to 30 pounds, they are roughly twice the size of a housecat; though their bobbed tails are shorter at only 4 to 7 inches long.

2. Although they are very adaptable and live in diverse habitats like forests, swamps, deserts, and even suburban areas, they are elusive and nocturnal and thus not seen very often. Which is why photos like the one above are such a treat.

3. While bobcats can tackle large prey, they subsist mostly on rabbits and hares. As is true to their feline nature, they are stealthy hunters; they have a powerful pounce that covers 10 feet in distance.

4. Solitary and territorial, females do not share territory, though males' territories often overlap. Males usually stake claim to 25 to 30 square miles of turf, while females have about five square miles.

5. Bobcats have a variety of dens in their territory; one main one, like a cave or rock shelter, and then various other lesser structures for shelter when they're out and about.

6. Mama bobcats spend 50 to 70 days in pregnancy to deliver litters of one to six kittens. By 11 months of age, the kittens are kicked out of mom's territory.

7. While bobcat populations in many areas plummeted during the early 20th century because of the popularity of their fur, international laws now protect them and their numbers have rebounded significantly.

8. That said, the beautiful wildcats are still killed by sheep farmers and hunted illegally for their fur. And like most creatures of the wild, habitat destruction by the ever-encroaching human population persists as one of the species' biggest threats.

Sources: Defender of Wildlife and National Geographic.

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