Wild Olympians: Bobcats

Our final olympian is the bobcat! In the Wild Olympics, bobcats would win Gold for hunting because they have superior sensing abilities, and they are built for stealth!

The bobcat’s excellent vision and hearing allow it to hunt in the dark. Bobcat pupils can dilate unusually wide, and special reflective retinal cells collect all available light, which allow them to see better in the dark. Their large pointy ears give them the ability to locate prey and reduce competition with other predators. The tuft hairs on the ear tips serve as antennae, increasing their ability to hear the slightest sound, making them able to hear a much wider range of sound frequencies than humans can. When they pivot their ears towards sound, they can amplify the sound to pinpoint the exact origin of their prey.

The bobcat is built for stealth with its low profile, camouflaged fur, and large feet with retractable claws and fur covered foot pads. The shape and softness of their feet help them sneak up on their prey quietly. When they walk or run, they put their back feet in the same spot where their front foot stepped (called direct register), which enables them to make less noise when stepping on twigs or leaves. Their low profile and spotted fur help bobcats hide in their habitat behind boulders, tall grass, or bushes.

With these super hunting adaptations, bobcats are better able to hunt their preferred underground prey: rabbits and rodents, which make them excellent pest controllers. If you allow them to do what they are best at, they will help to keep these pest populations from getting out of control, which will keep them out of our homes and food!

Diana Lakeland

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