Black Wildcats

A melanistic (black) jaguar.

As we all know, nature can be pretty unusual sometimes — sometimes it can be downright colorful. When someone mentions a mountain lion or a bobcat, what comes to you mind? If you picture the mountain lion, you may imagine a large felid, or cat, that’s dark tan or brown with a really long tail. If you picture the bobcat, you may envision a smaller cat with spots, a shorter tail, and tufts on its ears. But what about melanistic forms of these wildcats?

Melanism is the darkening of body tissues, fur in this case, as a result of excessive amounts of melanin. While melanism has been documented in jaguars and leopards, it is exceedingly rare in bobcats and has never even been documented in mountain lions. As of 2017, only 12 melanistic bobcats have been confirmed in North America — most frequently in Florida.

These black cats aren’t pure black though! They retain their markings, which can often be seen in bright light.

Denise Peterson

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