In the movie, What About Bob, Bill Murray plays a character who is challenged with taking baby steps outdoors. On the other end of the spectrum, bobcats are sure-footed and stealthy. No baby steps for these wild felines that stalk and pounce on unsuspecting prey.
Bobcats are larger than house cats and have longer legs and a shorter bobbed tail. They’re good swimmers and excellent climbers.
In Missouri, bobcats prefer heavy forests with thick underbrush, broken by rock outcroppings, bluffs, glades, clearings and timbered swamps. They require an extensive range for hunting with thickets, caves and crevices for rest, shelter and dens.
Bobcats are active all year round. They may be up and about by day or night, but hunt primarily at dawn or dusk. They prey mainly on rabbits, but their diet can include small rodents, squirrels, turkey, quail, and deer, especially fawns.
Bobcats rely on their keen eyesight and hearing rather than smell.
Watch bobcats in action in the video below.
Tracking the Bobcat
- Be on the lookout for the bobcats in Missouri. They used to live primarily in the Ozarks and Bootheel, but in recent decades they have expanded westward and north-ward.
- Bobcats have four toes. Their front and hind tracks are 2 inches long.
- As with other members of the cat family, bobcat claws are retractable and usually do not leave marks.
- Their walking stride distance is 6 to 13 inches.
- Their track pattern is narrow, nearly a straight line, with hind feet stepping into tracks made by its forefeet.
- Their trail often zigzags
- Tracks of young bobcats are easily confused with those of house cats.
< Learn more about the bobcat with MDC’s Field Guide.