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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Bobcats Common in Illinois

To me this looks like a big beautiful cat. In reality it is a member of the Felidae family and is known as a Bobcat. They are an average of 2 1/4 to 3 1/2 feet in length, including tail. They can grow to 2 feet high at the shoulder. Adult bobcat males can weigh up to 40 pounds but average 22 pounds. Adult females are smaller and weigh a bit less. Bobcats are normally a yellow to reddish brown fur with black spots and streaks. In the colder months the bobcat's fur will come in more grayish brown. Bobcats have 5 toes on the front two feet and on the back they have 4 toes on each foot.

Bobcats prefer to live in the forest. Bobcats have been to known here in Southern Illinois in the Shawnee Forest. The wooded habitat offers protection as well as a place to den. Bobcats hunt in the fields and open areas surrounding the woods.

Bobcat breeding season takes place in January through June. Peak season occurs February and March. Gestation period is an average of 60 days. Bobcats average 2 to 3 kittens per litter, one litter per year. Baby bobcats are spotted grayish brown fur The cubs are weaned by 2 months of age. The mother will watch over the cubs til the fall of the first year. Females start to breed around 1-2 years of age. Males do not breed until their second year of life.

Bobcats dine on rabbits, mice, and squirrels to name a few. While known as carnivores bobcats also enjoy eating birds, frogs, insects, fish and snakes. Larger animals like deer that are injured become easy food for the bobcat as well.

Bobcats make few sounds but you one can hear an occasional growl or high pitched scream. Breeding season brings among the most sound from the bobcats. During breeding season bobcats make squalls, howls, meows and yowls. The most active time of the bobcat to roam is just a few hours prior to sunset until dawn.

Bobcats were endangered here in Illinois during the mid and late 1900s. The number of bobcats has grown since that time and are commonly saw in the southern 1/3 of the state. This fall, hunting season for bobcat started again. While I understand the number of bobcats in the wild needs to be controlled I would hate to see the number of bobcat deplete to the average it was 20 - 30 years ago

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