Living with Bobcats

Widely distributed throughout most of North America, the charismatic bobcat has adapted well to neighborhoods throughout Florida. In rural areas, bobcats are found in deep forest, swamps and hammock land. They den and rest in thick patches of saw palmetto and dense shrub. Bobcats weigh 12-28 pounds, have a short “bobbed” tail, and prey on small animals such as rabbits, rodents, birds and occasionally deer.

Bobcats can be a positive addition to an area because they help control populations of other species that may be considered household or yard pests including rodents and rabbits. Unless an animal is sick or injured, bobcats are generally elusive and not aggressive toward people.

You can learn more about bobcats by reading this Flyer which is published by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The following is some more information from Rhonda Douthett, SW Region Wildlife Assistance Biologist:

Bobcats in Florida come in all colors ranging from tan with no spots, to grey with bold spots, to solid black. They are active mostly at night and are very common. People, however, do not see them often due to the secretive nature of the bobcats. They have large home-ranges, up to about 35 square miles for the males. Bobcats are generally about 25-35 lbs and have a tail that is 8 inches long at max.

Bobcats are generally shy and will try to stay far from most human areas. It is a good idea, though, to keep pets indoors or under supervision while outside. Dogs will be safest on a short leash while walking. You can also use hazing techniques (such as yelling, using air horns, etc.) to scare bobcats away as you see them. Passive deterrents like some of the ones listed below are also good for when you are not on the property. Bobcats are generally not a threat to people and are very easily scared off.

Modifying fencing:
To prevent the animals entering with a field fence, string a strand of electric wire or tape along the top of the fence. Houses in city limits that cannot use electric fence can use extending insulators on the top of chain link fences. Attach the insulators to the top of the fence and extend them to the outside of the fence. They generally extend out 6-8 inches. Attach a wire or tape to the insulators. It does not need to be electrified to work. It prevents animals from being able to climb or jump the fence since it overhangs to the outside, the same as zoo fencing keeps animals from climbing.

Deterring techniques:
Critter gitter device and water scarecrow (motion-activated water sprinkler) – These are very effective across a span of species. Set these up in your yard and it should deter bobcats, coyotes, bears, and quite a few other species of wildlife. Motion activated lights are also good at startling off predators at night.

Helpful Website:

Rhonda Douthett
SW Region Wildlife Assistance Biologist
Division of Habitat and Species Conservation
Wildlife Impact Management Section
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commision
3900 Drane Field RD
Lakeland, FL 33811
(863) 648-3200

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