Arizona Bobcat (video)
The bobcat, though seldom seen, is very common and found throughout the state. Usually an overall orange to gray in color with black markings, these medium-sized cats have a length of from 2 to 2 ½ feet and weigh between 12 and 30 pounds. The chest, belly and inner side of their legs are white with black spots, and their ears usually have small tufts. The bobcat's most distinguishing characteristic, however, is its short, 5- inch tail, which is always less than 1/4 of the length of its head and body. This feature, coupled with the animal's black spotting, can be used to distinguish bobcats from any other feline in Arizona, wild or domestic.
The bobcat’s principal prey is cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits but they also take small mammals such as mice and pack rats, birds, and occasionally larger mammals including the young of some big game species. Snakes and lizards are also part of the bobcat's diet.
Bobcats require two years to mature and attain breeding age. Bobcats may breed throughout the year but the peak is in late winter and early spring. The gestation period is from 50 to 60 days so that the one to three young are usually born in spring or early summer. As in most cats, the female raises the kittens alone, nursing them for two months before teaching them to hunt on their own.
Hunting and Trapping History
Hunters report taking approximately 2000 bobcats a year. Most of these are taken by hunters pursuing other game or by predator calling. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, when bobcats prices were high and foothold traps could be used on public land, Arizona trappers caught and exported roughly 6000 bobcats a year, with a high in 1980 of over 9,500. This number has fallen substantially due to the law making foothold traps unlawful on public land and the decrease in the value of a bobcat pelt. Today trappers report taking less than 1000 bobcats annually.