Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Lynn Chamberlain
Photo Copyright Lynn Chamberlain

The bobcat, Lynx rufus, occurs from Mexico to southern Canada. The species is fairly common throughout Utah, although individuals are rarely seen due to the secretive nature of the species. Bobcats prefer areas with thick undergrowth, and can be found in deserts, mountains, and numerous other types of habitat. They are primarily active at night and seek shelter in rocks, trees, or hollow logs when inactive. Bobcats are typically solitary except when breeding.

Females may give birth to one to seven kittens during the spring; the young will stay with their mother until fall. Both parents feed the young while the kittens remain in the den. Bobcats generally feed on small mammals, particularly rabbits and hares.

Bobcats are easy to distinguish from Utah's other two native cat species. Mountain lions (cougars) are much larger than bobcats and have long tails. The lynx occurs only in heavily forested areas, and individuals have conspicuous ear tufts, and short tails with completely black tips. Bobcats occur in many types of habitat, lack conspicuous ear tufts, and have black on the top of the end of the tail only.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Burt, W. H. and R. P. Grossenheider. 1980. A field guide to the mammals. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 289 pp.