Bobcat: the petite carnivore

Photo by Barb Del'Ve

Photo by Susan Noack

At the Real Gardens for Real People Tour this past weekend, I volunteered at the Tranquil Retreat garden not far from Jomax and Scottsdale Roads. The garden owner displayed a picture board featuring the wildlife that frequents her property. In one picture a bobcat strode calmly across her covered patio and in another a bobcat reclined on a window ledge, peering into her office. Over 900 people visited the garden on tour day and a fair number of them from the area stated that they too regularly saw bobcats near their homes.
According to Southwest Wildlife bobcats are common in the North Scottsdale area, particularly where golf courses attract their favorite prey; rabbits, rats and mice. Bobcats appreciate the shade, bird baths, pools and the other wildlife in gardens like the Tranquil Retreat. In addition to small mammals they will eat snakes, lizards, birds, and small house pets left outside unattended.
The Arizona Game and Fish website claims that a bobcat weighs 15-35 pounds, with the males being larger than females. Bobcats are long-legged kitties, up to two feet tall and four feet long. They easily jump 12 feet, clearing a block wall in a heartbeat. Like many cats they are most active in the early morning and at dusk, following established routes proven to yield tasty meals. During the middle of the day they nap in thick brush or under backyard shrubbery. Bobcats will not attack humans and rarely carry rabies. Although they are fairly comfortable around people, they scare away easily.
A friend and I saw a bobcat near Fossil Creek a couple of years ago. We were creeping down the steep gravel road in low gear when the bobcat trotted in front of the 4-Runner and disappeared over the embankment. We idled there a few minutes exclaiming about how close she’d crossed, and in that time the bobcat reemerged from the brush at the side of the road. Her heavily tufted ears were pricked and dangling limp from her mouth hung a rabbit. In two great leaps she bounded across the road in front of us again and disappeared into the trees.
More recently I read of a bobcat kitten found in a neighborhood, covered with cholla cactus barbs. While the mother watched from nearby the kitten was picked up and taken to Southwest Wildlife where it was treated. Good as new the noisy little bobcat was taken back out where the mother still waited. The door of the cage was opened and the rescuers stepped back. Mom called the baby to her and it walked under her body while she ushered the kitten back out to its desert home.
It is thrilling to see a wild cat in its natural habitat and maybe a bit disconcerting to find one peering in your window. I consider it a rich bonus to life in the desert.

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One response to “Bobcat: the petite carnivore

  1. Here kitty, kitty, come out, come out wherever you are. Would LOVE to have the privilege of seeing one of these guys striding in the desert or in my neighborhood.

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