Bobcats have very good eyesight and hearing, which is a great asset to their hunting skills. Like most cats, bobcats eat only prey animals. Let’s take a closer look at what do bobcats eat, with this ultimate guide.
Bobcats eat prey animals such as rabbits, squirrels, rodents, lizards, snakes, skunks, muskrats, beavers, ground-nesting birds such as quail, and turkey, as well as venison from small deers.
Cats are excellent hunters and bobcats are no exception, they rely on their senses as well as their ability to stalk, lie in wait, and pounce on their unexpecting prey. This gives them an advantage over small mammals that are none the wiser.
Bobcats are surplus killers who will kill more than they can eat and bury or hide their kill to eat later. Now that we know the kinds of things that they eat, let’s look at what they prefer to eat, what they shouldn’t eat, and other facts about the bobcat’s diet.
What Are Bobcats Favorite Food
Although they can hunt animals such as skunks, beavers, and small deer, they prefer to eat mostly rodents, squirrels, and rabbits, because they do not fight back and are easy targets.
Bobcats also eat a lot of ground-nesting birds, such as quail, turkey, and other bird species. Their main diet consists mainly of what is available to them in their home range. Many bobcats pick their home range based on food supply.
It was once thought by hunters that bobcats were reducing the quail population, however, The Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute looked at 54 studies on bobcat predation and found that the bobcat’s diet was made up of less than 3% quail and the bird only showed up in 2 of the 54 studies they looked at of bobcat diets. Source.
Depending on the location, they will also eat many rabbits, hares, and jackrabbits. Since bobcats live in multiple regions, the type of climates, where they live, can dictate the type of prey that is available.
See our article for Where do bobcats live?
Are Bobcats Carnivores?
Yes, bobcats are carnivores. They prefer an all-meat diet. The diet of a bobcat is determined by the type of prey that is in the area. Some bobcats are going to prey mostly on rabbits while others will have access to more rodents and other small game.
The regions where the bobcats live can also determine what it eats. In the desert, bobcats are going to eat a lot of jackrabbits, lizards, and other desert creatures. An all carnivore diet allows the bobcat to get all of the nutrients it needs from the prey that it kills.
How do Bobcats Kill Their Prey
Bobcats are known for their stealthy hunting skills. While some animals are quick to attack, the bobcat will stalk its prey, waiting for the opportune moment to pounce. They deliver a death blow, usually to the neck of their prey.
The coolest part of the way a bobcat pounces is that it can pounce from 10 feet away! The bobcat relies primarily on sight and sound for its hunting. They can see in low light, giving them an advantage. They usually hunt at night and in the twilight, during sunrise and sunset. Source.
The bobcat will hunt until it becomes full. This may only take a few hours, or it may take longer for them to track down enough prey to fill them up. In this case, it may take all night. A bobcat eats around 2-3 pounds of meat. This means if they kill a larger animal, they will hide it and eat from it again.
Will a Bobcat Eat a Dead Animal?
Bobcats are considered opportunistic predators, which means they will eat from a dead animal carcass, also known as carrion. However, this only happens if there is a shortage of their prey. In most cases, bobcats prefer fresh meat and will only eat from carrion if they are starving.
This does not happen very often. The home range of a bobcat allows for many prey animals to live nearby. They can eat rodents, squirrels, and other small animals before they would ever have to find a carcass to eat from.
Do Bobcats Eat Livestock?
Bobcats have been known to eat livestock. They do not eat larger animals very often, but sometimes when the food supply is low they will look for opportunities to hunt larger animals. Goats and chickens can be preyed on by bobcats as well as any livestock that has babies.
Bobcats are hunted by farmers and other types of hunters when they start devastating livestock. This doesn’t happen very often, bobcats usually get their fill on much smaller animals in their home range. In most cases, they wouldn’t start a fight with any animal that could fight back, they usually go for the easy kills.
Pet Bobcat Diet
Pet bobcats have special needs when it comes to a diet. They are carnivores, so they need to be kept on a full prey model diet. This means the meat will need to have the correct amounts of bones, muscle, tendons, organ meat, and other nutrients that may need to be supplemented.
Exotic pets come with a different set of responsibilities than domestic pets. You must have the correct housing for them and the right kind of diet. There are many places online where you can buy full model prey foods for a bobcat. They will most likely have live rodents or separated animal meats, that will be formulated for a full prey diet.
Not overfeeding your pet bobcat is also important. In the wild, bobcats eat a couple of pounds of meat per day and will eat until they are full. However, a bobcat that is given regular meals may be inclined to overeat, which is bad for them for many reasons, including health problems such as liver and heart disease.
Bobcats do not make good pets, so if you are thinking about raising one you will need to do a good amount of research. You should start by talking to an exotic pet veterinarian who is familiar with bobcats, to help you formulate a diet and other information that is vital to raising a wild animal.
What Not to Feed a Bobcat
Bobcats are a lot like housecats and other types of cats. There are some things that you should never feed to them. Human foods often contain ingredients that are toxic to cats and dogs.
List of foods not to feed bobcats:
- Bread or food with yeasts
- Citrus fruits
- Coconut water or flesh
- Grapes and raisins
- Dairy and milk
The bobcat’s digestion system doesn’t process food the same way that humans do. Try to avoid things like grapes and raisins and any fruit that has a pit. Dairy can be hard for cats to digest since some wild cats are lactose intolerant.
As long as you stick to a strict prey model diet, you shouldn’t have to feed a bobcat anything else but that. Sometimes wild animals and pets will like things such as milk and grapes even though they’re bad for them, and just because they like something, doesn’t mean you should feed it to them.
Do Bobcats Eat Coyotes?
A bobcat would not prey on a coyote unless they fight over territory. In this case, the winner will most likely end up preying on the loser. These two are pretty much natural enemies and will avoid each other. However, this doesn’t mean that their paths do not cross. If the two did fight over territory it would most likely be a fight to the death.
A bobcat would not prey on a coyote, because of the threat posed by the coyote to attack back, and vise versa for the coyote. Both of these predators do not go for high-risk prey. They get their fill on small animals that are easier and faster for them to kill.
Do Bobcats Eat House Cats?
Bobcats are wild animals. This means they cannot be trusted around house cats. Even tamed bobcats that are kept as exotic pets are not domesticated and could attack a house cat or pet out of wild instinct. This could happen if they find the house cat a territorial threat.
If the bobcat was hungry enough it may prey on a house cat, however, this would be very rare, because even bobcats that live in urban areas have plenty of rodents and squirrels to prey on. A house cat will fight back, making them less likely to be preyed on by bobcats. Source.
What Do Bobcats Eat in the Desert?
Bobcats live in multiple semi-desert regions. This means the prey that they have access to, may be different from the prey available to a mountain region or other regions. Deserts have small game animals, such as jackrabbits, rodents, and birds, as well as reptiles such as lizards.
Bobcats in the desert are more likely to feed on carrion since they must be more opportunistic. Desert regions have a smaller food supply, so bobcats must choose a home range that is diverse with creatures.
See our article for Bobcat Habitat
What Do Bobcats Eat in the Winter?
Bobcats that live in areas where the winters can be extremely cold, usually have access to prey that thrives in snow. Animals such as small deer, snowshoe hares, voles, and rodents such as rats, squirrels, and chipmunks. Cottontail rabbits can also be a large food source for bobcats that live in northern regions.
Thick snow makes it easier for bobcats to prey on animals. Bobcats can track animals and pounce on them much easier when the prey leaves behind a trail and scent in the snow. Source.
Do Bobcats Eat Chickens?
Bobcats hunt many types of birds. Any wild bird that shares territory with a bobcat is fair game, however, they will also get into chickens on farms and other places where their territory overlaps with farmland.
If you think you may have a problem with bobcats killing your chickens you should first try to fortify your chickens. Have them in fenced-off areas where they are less likely to become easy prey. A bobcat that has to work at getting around a well-fenced-off area is most likely going to give up and prey on something easier.
Will Bobcats Eat Fruit or Vegetables?
Bobcats are carnivores that only eat prey animals. The nutrition that they get from fruits and vegetables is going to be absorbed from the prey animals that the bobcat is feeding on. In some rare cases, when food sources are scarce a bobcat may eat from fruit or vegetation.
They may also eat fruit as a last-ditch effort to hydrate when there is no good water source
Do Bobcats Eat Fish?
Bobcats mostly prey on small game mammals, such as rabbits and rodents. It is rare for a bobcat to prey on fish. They are no stranger to water and swimming but catching fish is much harder than pouncing on rodents.
In areas where salmon spawns, it is more likely that a bobcat might prey on the spawning fish because they become easy prey. However, in general, fish are not a part of a bobcat’s natural diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
A bobcat could eat a fox in the wild if their territory overlaps. They both share the same prey and may fight over territory. This would be very rare since bobcats do not usually pick fights with animals that are fierce fighters.
Bobcats eat many bird species. An eagle could be prey for a bobcat if it lives in the same home range as the bobcat. Larger eagles would probably put up a fight.
Bobcats have been known to eat reptiles and amphibians, this means a frog or a toad would be an easy kill for a bobcat since they are slow are easier to prey on.
Bobcats do not usually kill large prey, however, they adapt to survive. If they kill a large goat they will most likely eat from it multiple times.