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A Bobcat in the Neighborhood

Updated on May 23, 2011

Humans and Nature Together Again

With some older central cities being the exception, our modern cities with single family homes sitting on large lots and surrounded by wide swaths of green space or vacant land provide good habitat for animals as well as humans.

While late nineteenth and early twentieth century people worried about loss of wilderness and wildlife due to increasing urbanization, contemporary urban residents worry about how to deal with increasing numbers of wild animals that are posing a threat to property and even life itself. 

A couple of years ago after hearing that a friend of mine's husband had collided with a deer on the road at night for the second time in two years,  I ran across an article claiming that property damage from collisions with deer and other wild animals inhabiting suburban areas had reached over a billion dollars a year as well as costing the lives of close to 300 people per year.

Geese Crossing sign in Town of Chili, New York
Geese Crossing sign in Town of Chili, New York | Source

An Evening Visit by a Bobcat

My family and I live in a suburban neighborhood consisting of about 150 townhouse homes on small lots in close proximity with patches of open desert around us in suburban Tucson, Arizona.

While not frequent, we have had javalinas and coyotes wander through the neighborhood on occasion.  They were as wary of us as we were of them so both kept our distance.  Unfortunately, they did not wait around for me to get my camera. 

We also had a large snake in the back yard - my wife thought it was a sidewinder rattlesnake but a fellow Hubber pointed out in the comments on that article that it was a harmless gopher snake.  She was able to get pictures of that snake.

My wife also got some nice pictures of a bobcat which tends to visit the yard of the hospice where she works.  The hospice is located in a semi-rural enclave with a fair amount of vacant land and homes built on large lots.  Despite the fact that this area is a semi-developed island completely surrounded by urban development, many wild animals live in this enclave.

At twilight one evening she was able to get some good pictures of the cat as it made its way through the yard of the hospice.  While her photos were somewhat dark, I was able to enhance them and lighten them up using the tools that accompany Windows Photo Gallery.

Bobcat beginning its nightly prowl for food
Bobcat beginning its nightly prowl for food | Source
Bobcat looking for prey in tall grass
Bobcat looking for prey in tall grass | Source
Bobcat in a backyard in Tucson, Arizona
Bobcat in a backyard in Tucson, Arizona | Source
Bobcat pouncing on a small prey
Bobcat pouncing on a small prey | Source

Bobcats, whose scientific name is Lynx Rufus, are common in common to the American Southwestern and are close relatives of the Canadian Lynx and similar species of such cats which are found all over North America.

Bobcats, like many other members of the cat family, are nocturnal and can be found mostly at night.  They are thus not commonly seen by the average person hiking in the wild or in their backyards in places like Tucson.  As mentioned above, these photos were taken shortly after sunset when the bobcat began his prowl for food at night.

While bobcats and their close relatives are common and are on display in many zoos, they are often difficult to see in zoos as most zoos are open only during the day and the most one usually sees of these types of cats is a furry ball sleeping in a cornor.

Bobcats are carnivores who hunt and eat meat.  Because bobcats are not very large their size being about twice that of a housecat, their prey tend to be small and include rabbits and other small rodents as well as other small prey like insects and family pets.   According to WikiPedia, they have been known to go after deer on occasion as well.

As to family pets, a bobcat will attack small dogs, however, according to people I have talked to, this is not common unless the dogs get out and are running loose at night in areas where bobcats are present.  Owls, another nocturnal hunter, actually present a greater threat to small dogs in yards at night although even they are not a major threat if owners keep an eye on their small dogs in the evening.

Bobcat walking around the yard in Tucson, Arizona.
Bobcat walking around the yard in Tucson, Arizona. | Source
Bobcat sitting on wall around yard. Notice black tipped ears and short tail with black end.
Bobcat sitting on wall around yard. Notice black tipped ears and short tail with black end. | Source
Bobcat sitting wall looking out at surrounding open area.
Bobcat sitting wall looking out at surrounding open area. | Source
Bobcat obligingly posing for camera.
Bobcat obligingly posing for camera. | Source
Bobcat beginning his exit from yard.
Bobcat beginning his exit from yard. | Source
Bobcat Sitting on wall.
Bobcat Sitting on wall. | Source
Bobcat heading back into the desert around Tucson, Arizona
Bobcat heading back into the desert around Tucson, Arizona | Source
Young Bobcat
Young Bobcat | Source

Taking Time for a Drink

Bobcat next to backyard bird bath
Bobcat next to backyard bird bath | Source
Bobcat attempting to get a drink from a backyard bird bath
Bobcat attempting to get a drink from a backyard bird bath | Source
Bobcat awkwardly balanced a top a backyard bird bath
Bobcat awkwardly balanced a top a backyard bird bath | Source
Bobcat enjoying a cool drink in the Tucson desert.
Bobcat enjoying a cool drink in the Tucson desert. | Source

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    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Thank you. Glad you enjoyed the Hub and my wife's photos of the bobcat.

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 

      6 years ago from Paris via California

      How lucky you are! What a beautiful sight.

    • profile image

      melanie 

      7 years ago

      it sure looks like a cat to me.but their awesome wow how these pictures i live in the mountains and i have never seen one and theirs a lot up here but it still looks like a cat it could be

    • profile image

      Lora101 

      9 years ago

      Amazing pictures!

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      alexchi01 - glad you enjoyed this Hub.

      Yes, these are wild cats and they and their relatives can be found in many parts of North America. We have quite a bit of wildlife living near urban areas and their numbers are growing. Here is a link to a Hub I wrote on this:

      https://hubpages.com/education/Economic_Progress_B...

      Chuck

    • alexchia01 profile image

      alexchia01 

      9 years ago

      Hee hee... I love your pictures of the bobcat. Are they wild cats in the states. I live in Singapore and I don't see a lot of bobcats here.

    • donotfear profile image

      Annette Thomas 

      9 years ago from Northeast Texas

      I love this! You know, we have tons of Bobcats around here in the Sulphur River Bottoms but I've yet to see one in a close encounter. The closest I've actually come to seeing one is catching a brief glimpse of a shadow crossing the road at dusk. Wow. Great photos!

    • elisabethkcmo profile image

      elisabethkcmo 

      9 years ago from Just East of Oz

      enjoyed this very much, especially your pictures

      my brother lives in the desert in Vail, I'll have to send him the link to this hub

    • abcd1111 profile image

      abcd1111 

      9 years ago from Glen Ellyn, IL (Chicago suburb)

      Awesome photos of a bobcat out of his natural environment. Thanks for the article.

    • paul_gibsons profile image

      paul_gibsons 

      9 years ago from Gibsons, BC, Canada

      smashing pictures... we see them here quite a lot, in fact increasingly so as, thanks to increasing development food becomes more easily avalable,especially as more people decide to do some "backyard farming", and they can do with much smaller ranges than totally "in the wild". Also that changes their habits a bit and they become less nocturnal although you still won't see them much as they are masters of stealth, even better than cougars with whom they overlap here. I will write on bobcats in my part of the world and a bit on their biology some time in the not too distant future

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 

      9 years ago

      Chuck, great hub! Reminded me of a time when coon hunting with a friend of mine in Western North Carolina. The first and only time I heard a Bobcat's scream, scared me out of my wits.

      Robert Ballard

    • thaninja profile image

      thaninja 

      9 years ago from America

      I used to want to raise bobcats in captivity, but they never really become tame like a housecat will. They are beautiful animals, and small enough that I am not to scared of them like I am with the cougars that we get in the mountains here...every year a couple kids get attacked.

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      EldercareABC - Wow! That was quite an experience you described.

      I have always been told that, unless you appear to be a threat to them, most wild animals will tend to run away rather than attack a person as they are usually as scared of us as we are of them.

      The funny thing is, I have lived in Arizona for over 20 years and, except for a couple of javalina that wandered into the neighborhood and some coyotes I have seen at a distance, it is my wife who came here from Europe and married me five years ago who has seen the most wildlife. In July she looked out the window and saw a large snake on the patio. She took pictures of it and thought it was a sidewinder rattlesnake. I published a Hub ( https://hubpages.com/animals/A-Sidewinder-on-the-P ) about her experience with the snake along with the pictures she took. Then she comes to me a couple of weeks ago with the bobcat photos.

      So she provided me with pictures and ideas for two Hubs within a two month time period. I would hire her to help with my HubPage publishing except for the fact that my Google AdSense money is deposited directly to our joint account so she doesn't need the job as she already has access to the money.

      Chuck

    • EldercareABC profile image

      EldercareABC 

      9 years ago from USA

      Great hub-- when 19 year old was 4, we were visiting friends. He was playing with my friends 6 year old out in their woods, when we suddenly saw them both running at us at break neck speed. Both swore that they had just run into a "lion" and wanted us to phone the zoo to see if any had escaped. Apparently, it had roared at them when they got near. Both were known for drama and we thought their imaginations had gotten the better of them.

      That night my friend heard her dog barking ferociously and as she got closer, she heard a roaring sound and saw the bobcat on her back deck.

      (I was grateful it had roared and not attacked one of them)

    • Carmen Borthwick profile image

      Carmen Borthwick 

      9 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C.

      Good hub Chuck and great photos from your wife. Thanks for sharing an exciting sighting. Its unfortunate that habitat is being infringed on so dramatically everywhere in the world. In response to Linda's comment [above] I think the problem stems from a complete lack of planning when it comes to urban development.

    • profile image

      Linda Myshrall 

      9 years ago

      Nice photography (Chuck's wife!) on a difficult photographic subject. I have never seen a bobcat photgraphed in such a candid way before... awesome. Urban sprawl is a messy thing and urban planning a difficult balancing act. In your region, the Tucson shovel nosed snake is nearly extinct because of it. Great hub. I gave it a thumbs up.

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      lyricsingray - thanks for your nice comments. However, credit for the photos goes to my wonderful wife - I just posted them and added the text.

      Chuck

    • profile image

      lyricsingray 

      9 years ago

      Learning about animals is one of my favorite things to do. I knew nothing about a Bobcat and truthfully, she is quite beautiful. Glad you were able to capture those photo's-thanks for sharing it with us, Kimberly

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Enjoyed the photos! Haven't seen any bobcats here but coyotes and wild boars are an every day experience.

    • forlan profile image

      forlan 

      9 years ago

      nice bobcat, I am afraid it will attack human or human pets

    • profile image

      sandi3m 

      9 years ago

      Great pictures, and an interesting story to read!

    • Laurel Oakes profile image

      Laurel Oakes 

      9 years ago

      Bobcats are beautiful creatures, your wife did a great job displaying that.

    • Vivenda profile image

      Vivenda 

      9 years ago from UK (South Coast)

      Very interesting hub, Chuck. Certainly beats our squirrels and foxes - though, come to think of it, squirrels are rather special!

    • Carol the Writer profile image

      Carolyn Blacknall 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Chuck,

      Great hub. Your wife took some very good photos. Glad to be your fan!

      Carol

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