Are Bobcats Nocturnal? (Can You Meet Them During The Day??)

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Are Bobcats Nocturnal?

Bobcats are seen by humans only very seldom. This can be for several reasons – maybe they avoid urban areas, maybe they are just very good at hiding.

But also the time at which they are awake and active can have something to do with it. Are bobcats nocturnal?  

Are bobcats nocturnal?

Bobcats are nocturnal animals. More specifically, they are most active in low light conditions, that is, dusk and dawn. Animals that are active mostly in twilight are often called crepuscular.

Bobcats wake up roughly three hours before sunset, hunt until midnight, and then go back to sleep. Shortly before sunrise, they are active again, only to go back to sleep in the early morning. 

During winter, their sleep cycle shifts, though, and they become more diurnal – active during the day, like humans. The reason for this is that their prey is rarer during winter, so they have to spend more time hunting.

Bobcats are quite flexible and able to customize their sleep schedule with regard to the demands of their environment.

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Are Bobcats Nocturnal?
Are Bobcats Nocturnal?

Bobcats that live in urban areas tend to be more nocturnal than those living more remotely since they want to avoid humans. During the daytime, they sleep in dens like hollow trees, rock crevices, or abandoned beaver dens and underground burrows. A bobcat utilizes several dens in its territory.

Most of them have one main den and various auxiliary dens at the edges of their territory. The territories of bobcats are up to 3.2 square miles for male bobcats and 1.5 square miles for female bobcats. 

Are Bobcats Dangerous to Humans? 

Bobcats can be dangerous to humans but they are solitary and elusive animals that prefer to be left alone. Left to their own devices, they will usually not attack humans, but is important to know that they, their comparatively small size notwithstanding, do not shy away from a fight!

Some people even call bobcats the “spitfire of the animal kingdom” because of their fearless and aggressive tendencies.

Generally, bobcats are most likely to attack when they are with their cubs and feel threatened, or when they have rabies. A bobcat with rabies will behave erratically and foam at the mouth – when you see a bobcat behaving strangely like this, it is best to keep your distance and call animal control. 

Bobcat Kitten
Bobcat Kitten

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When living in an area where there are bobcats, it is also important to keep your pets safe. Especially small birds, rabbits, and rodents belong to the natural prey of bobcats, so you should never let them be in your garden unattended.

You should also avoid having bushes or other potential hiding places close to your home. Never keep pet food outside, since it can attract bobcats! 

If you want to scare a bobcat away, loud noises are your best weapon – you can shout, bang pots and pans together, or use bells or a car horn. 

Do Bobcats Have Any Predators? 

Unfortunately, humans are the most dangerous predator for bobcats. They have long been hunted for their beautiful pelt, especially since in the 1970s CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) came into effect and forbid the trade with the pelt of other big cats.

Due to the encroachment of humans into their habitat, bobcats also more often are forced to live in urban areas, which leads to an increased risk of accidents and car impacts. 

Their natural predators are mountain lions and grey wolves. Young bobcat kittens also sometimes fall prey to great-horned owls, foxes, coyotes, and hawks. Another danger from other carnivores is that they compete with bobcats for food, and starvation is a rising cause of death for bobcats. 

Other prominent causes of death for bobcats are infections, for example, rabies or feline distemper. After humans, diseases and parasites are the second biggest reason for bobcats dying. 

Bobcat Coming Out Of A Tree Trunk
Bobcat Coming Out Of A Tree Trunk

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Why Are Bobcats Called Bobcats? 

Bobcats are named after their tail, which is comparatively short for the tail of a cat. The tail of a bobcat can be about six inches long, whereas house cats, which are only about half the size of bobcats, have tails with a length of 11 inches. The tails of big cats like lions and tigers can even be about 40 inches long! 

Just like a hairstyle with short hair is called a bob, this cat with a short tail is called a bobcat. 

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Adrian Volenik

I've lived around animals my whole life and I hold a Diploma in Animal Physiology. When I'm not reading or writing about wild animals, health and fitness, and technology, you can find me playing with my son and two cats. My pastimes include running, playing video games, and solving the NY Times crossword.

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