Bobcats are on the increase again. As relentless hunters, bobcats can encroach on your premises, hunting rodents, chicken and even your pets. This can be a huge nuisance making it a priority to trap the bobcat.
You can trap bobcats using lures combined with the right bait to attract them into the trap. Bobcats are captivated by smell, mixing meat, urine, catnip, and herbal oil can be effective in trapping a bobcat. You can either use a cage trap to catch the bobcat alive or body-gripping traps to kill it immediately.
To trap a bobcat, you need to grab its attention. If the bobcat suspects foul play, it will not come for your bait. Also, if trapped, skill is needed in releasing and relocating bobcats as they will likely attack you when released.
What is the Best Bait for Trapping Bobcats?
Bobcats react to different baits with varying interest. Essentially, your bait should be visible enough to pull the bobcat in. Such curiosity, coupled with their appetite for their preferred bait, will attract them and pull them into the bait. Let us look at some of the best baits for trapping bobcats.
Bobcats love meat
Bobcats are naturally carnivorous and relish meat. Their preferred preys cut across rabbits, poultry, and muskrats. These small animals make perfect options for baiting bobcats. While live meat is prevalently used as bobcat baits, there are other circumstances where bobcats scavenge – especially during winter when bobcats go for aging meat because of its more distinct smell.
Other than rodents, small birds, squirrels, and fish are good meat baits for bobcats. Bobcats are also very good at hunting deer. When using these meat baits, you can mix them with them bobcat scent glands to lure them in.
You chop up fish in a blender, mixing it with some drops of skunk essence; preserving the entire mixture with some tablespoons of sodium benzoate. This is an excellent idea of paste-type meat bait for trapping bobcats.
You can use urine as well
Gland baits are also great options for your bait Bobcats find it hard to resist aged scent glands, making it ideal for baiting dirt hole bobcat traps. This will pull the bobcat into the hole. While using such scent glands, it is important not to set off the skepticism or suspicion of the bobcat, so they can continue sniffing.
Therefore, the dirt hole trap, along with the scents, must look as natural as possible. You can use a gland bait on one side of your dirt hole trap; complementing the gland bait with bobcat urine.
Even if not hungry, when the bobcats walk by the hole trap, the scent will yet excite their curiosity, especially when you use a chunk of beaver. The musky scent will make them get entrapped in the hole, so long the hole is sufficiently big to accommodate the bobcat.
The smell of herbal oil attracts bobcats
If you want to guide a bobcat to your trap, you can use catnip oil. The cat is generally aroused by catnip even up to much larger cats. So if you have your meat bait set, you can add some lovage and sweet musk oil to attract the bobcat.
Bobcats also find musky scents intriguing. Therefore, valerian powder can be used to pull in bobcats into your trap. We will not recommend you using fish oil because the strength of the scent could be powerful for the bobcat, turning it off eventually.
Visual attractors also work
Visual attractors can also attract bobcats into your trap. Being visual hunter, bobcats would be curious when they notice such conspicuous visual attractors strategically placed to make them come into the trap. Most trappers like faking fur to visually stimulate the bobcat while others use jar lids and aluminum foil.
This foil plays on the inquisitiveness of the bobcat to come and examine the flickering fur. You can also use bird wings as visual attractors. However, we must add here that using bird wings is subjective to the jurisdiction you are. In some regions, it is completely illegal to use bird wings as visual attractors.
Bobcat Trapping Tips – How to Trap
Trapping bobcats is not easy being that bobcats are very smart and instinctive. Trapping bobcats outside your home during the closed hunting season can be illegal in some states as bobcats are yet protected species. However, there is no huge problem if you trap a bobcat inside your property. Let us give you some vital tips that will efficiently catch you your next bobcat.
How much do you know of the bobcat?
To successfully trap a bobcat, you must know a bit of the bobcat’s routine or movement. Bobcats’ movement helps them evade most threats. Trapping raccoons is easier than trapping bobcats. Bobcats sniff a lot and if your trap doesn’t entice them – or your trap is suspicious, they will not fall for it. The question now is how you would locate your bobcat trap.
The good news is that bobcats have systematic movements and if you pay close attention, you would see that there is a repeating pattern in the way the bobcat moves. It is uncharacteristic of a bobcat to visit a favorable location just once. In most cases, they would come back.
If they mark that place as their territory, they don’t stay far off (unless in mating season), so you are very likely to find them again there. An adult bobcat will mark its territory with urine, and this territory can span an average 27 miles around which they source their food. Within this area, you can assuredly set your trap.
Which cat lures will you use?
After determining the patterns in the bobcat’s movement, you can choose the trap you will use. For the bobcat to come into these traps, you must use the right lures. Basically, baits that work for coyotes work for bobcats. Therefore anything from rodent, grasshopper, raccoons, crayfish, snakes, porcupines are good to attract the bobcat.
Most times, we advise a combination of anise oil, feather scraps, mineral lick, catnip, the bait itself, and a whistle to attract the bobcat. Your trap would be best set in the traveling route of the bobcat. It is interesting to note that bobcats don’t move backward. Therefore, only exit ways and entrance paths would work best for situating your trap. Bobcats have tunnel vision and hunt with their head first. So make sure to set your trap with this in mind.
Choosing your trap
If you want to catch the bobcat alive, you can use a paw-grip trap. Bear in mind that expertise is needed for this as the bobcat will most likely attack you when you open the cage. Make sure to wear protective clothing to avoid injuries from scratch and even infestation. If you don’t want to trap the bobcat alive, you can use body-gripping style traps that will crush the bobcat. In most cases, such traps are spring-loaded.
Coil spring traps are commonly used courtesy of their jaw spread. This is because bobcats have big foot. To lessen the risk of foot damage, you can use traps with laminated jaws. This is even better where you have dogs on your premises. 1 1/2 coil spring are preferred options in this circumstance.
Where Can I Find Bobcats?
Bobcats, as we will be learning in-depth later, are territorial animals. Therefore, if you can accurately identify their territories, you can be sure they are within that neighborhood as bobcats don’t have the habit of wandering far – preferring to have stable and marked habitats. Being solitary, a bobcat will mark an area of land for its own.
The size of this territory can range from 1 to 18 square miles. In winter, this reduces due to increased mingling between bobcats for breeding. It is not too hard to find bobcats in such regions commonly marked by urine, feces and symbolic scratches on surrounding trees.
Bobcats following their recent surge in population can be found anywhere across the United States although they are relatively scarcer deep south and in the corn-belt region. In Florida, New Jersey, and Missouri, there is a sizable population of bobcats.
Based on habitats, bobcats are highly adaptable. Thus you can find them in swamps, coniferous forests, canyonlands, deserts, broadleaf forests, and sage-brush steppes. You can also find them in suburban settings. The primary thing is that so long bobcats can find sufficient vegetation to hide in and sufficient food in a specific area, they will stay there.
Can You Tell if a Bobcat is Around?
Yes, you can easily tell if you have these felines close by from their tracks. Aside from the marked territories we talked of, you can tell if a bobcat is around when you repeatedly notice its asymmetrical distinctly marked by its metacarpal pad and four toes. In the case of bobcats, their metacarpal pad is peculiarly shaped as “M”.
However, you will not quickly identify the claws of a bobcat from its track. In most cases, the rear tracks are smaller and more oval than the front track. In bobcats, the front tracks are relatively bigger, coming at 2.5 inches length. It is possible to mistake the tracks of a cougar for those of a bobcat because of their close similarity. However, cougar tracks are usually bigger.
You can also tell from the bobcat’s scrapes. This commonly has a length ranging from six inches to twenty inches with a width of about 7.5 inches. In the snow, you can tell if a bobcat is around or has been there if you notice its characteristic “sit-downs” marks. These are formed when the bobcat sits on the haunches when it intermittently stops.
What Adaptations Do Bobcats Have?
Bobcats are survivors, boasting high adaptability. Bobcats can master a habitat and optimize itself to survive there. This is why we see bobcats living sustainably across multiple habitats like suburbs, farmlands, deserts, forests, swamps and mountains.
All over Canada, the US, and North America in general, there is an impressive population spread across diverse habitats.
This is all thanks to their adaptability. Let us explore some of the features that enable bobcats to survive in several terrains.
The Mottled Fur Coat
Bobcats have distinct fur which acts as a fantastic camouflage for stalking its prey unnoticed. This fur ranges from reddish-brown, grayish-brown to yellowish-brown. Sometimes this fur coat is marked with black-tipped outer hairs. When winter comes in, the bobcat’s fur gets more grayish getting closer to the color of snow, especially in northern climates.
This way, the appearance of bobcats can blend with their surroundings, making them harder to be noticed by their prey. Through the deserts and dark forests, these bobcats stealthily camouflage with the surrounding. With these preys on lesser guard and defense, the bobcats can suddenly pounce on them.
Very sharp claws and teeth
Bobcats are great hunters. Their teeth are very sharp, which makes it harder for preys to get away. A bobcat prioritizes the sharpness of its claws, knowing they are important hunting tools for it. When it walks, the bobcat will retract the claws maintaining their cutting sharpness. It is when it sneaks up on prey that it will release the razor-sharp claws.
These claws can also be extended for climbing rocks and trees. Bobcats also boast very sharp teeth. These teeth it habitually sinks into the chest of the prey, its neck or the base of prey’s skull. More interestingly, these jaws are strong and can tear the meat quickly.
Adaptability in hunting
Stealth is one indispensable hunting skill of the bobcat. Its stealthy stalking of preys is superb in the cat family. Bobcats leap sharply too, sometimes as far as 10 feet giving them the aerial advantage above their preys.
Bobcats also boast speed which is characteristic of bigger cats enabling it to chase it preys incase its cover or camouflage is broken too soon. Bobcats are good hunters too.
If the bobcat isn’t stalking its prey, it will rather intelligently lie in wait. Most times when hunting from the trees, the bobcat will leap on the back of its unguarded prey, biting it fatally. In most circumstances, the bobcat hunts at night where it maximizes its superior night vision and stealth.
Bobcats are very sensitive as well, picking the slightest sound and movement thanks to its tufted ears. With such enhanced hearing and big eyes optimized for clarity in vision at night, bobcats are very competent nocturnal hunters.
They can travel as far as 20 miles when hunting but make sure to return to their territory by dusk. Sometimes when food is very rare, bobcats can resort to eating eggs and beetles. If they have exhausted their stored caches of food (short term food storage), they can survive hungry for many days.
Will a Bobcat Attack a Child?
Fundamentally, bobcats aren’t an acute threat to adults or kids. Agreed, bobcats can hunt your pets like dog and cats, but they would never attack your child unprovoked. Bobcats rarely attack animals that are far bigger than they are. Your child fits into the size category of animals bobcats would perceive as predator. The only time a healthy bobcat would attack your child is when it is on the defensive.
Female bobcats could attack your children if your kids get too close to its kittens. There have been cases of kids handling baby bobcats, mistaking them for regular domestic cats. Educating your children in keeping a safe distance from bobcats will significantly reduce such incidences.
Yes, a bobcat with rabies will attack humans – adult or children. Such rabid bobcats display rare aggression and most times appear weak while foaming at the mouth.
Are Bobcats Territorial?
Bobcats are loners and don’t thrive together. By their social behavior, bobcats are very conscious of their territorial, which they guard diligently from other bobcats.
If a male bobcat strays into the territory of another male bobcat, a bitter fight is most likely to ensue. A bobcat will warn other bobcats off by marking its territory with feces and urine as said. In other cases, they will scratch on strategic trees depicting their district.
A male bobcat’s territory can sprawl into 30 square miles while that of the female bobcat is much smaller at 6 square miles. In some cases, the territory of a male bobcat will overlap that of a female bobcat – even sometimes three female bobcats. These territories are determined most times by human activities like roads and buildings.
In an urban setting, a female bobcat may not have more than a square mile for her territory while in such similar urban conditions; the male bobcat will make do with three square miles for territory. Most of these territories loosely overlap within the mating season. In some cases, the male bobcat can entirely relocate to a far different area in search of a mating partner.
It is usual for variations to occur in the routine of a bobcat being that they can’t fully cover their territory at a go. Over time, the bobcat will work on the boundaries of its territory, possibly spreading its range if the preys are becoming harder to come by.
In general, bobcats will avoid very active human settings. If they are forced to have their territories in such human societies, they will primarily maintain a nocturnal to avoid contact with humans.
What Do Bobcats Eat?
Bobcats are natural carnivores and will preferably go for meat. Ideally, bobcats will settle for smaller animals like rodents, squirrels, poultry, and fish. It preferred prey range weigh about 0.68 to 5.67 kg.
These preys vary by where the bobcat is staying. Bobcats in the northern region of the United States love the snowshoe hare and is their meal of choice. However, bobcats in the eastern part prefer the eastern cottontail species.
In cases of food scarcity (of their preferred choice), bobcats can resort to hunting bigger animals. Bobcats are great at hunting bigger deer. Also, bobcats will eat domestic cats, smaller dogs, foxes, and skunks if the situation demands. Bobcats may not be able to attack much bigger animals herbivores like horses or cattle, but they can also attack and eat goats and sheep.
Statistics from the National Agricultural Statistics Service show that in 2004, more than 11,000 sheep were killed by bobcats! This means that bobcats were responsible for approximately 5% of total sheep predator deaths for that year! Bobcats while they prefer live meat which they killed themselves, they can also eat aged meat they scavenge. Remember bobcats are survivors and will make do with what they have.
When they attack bigger animals, they may be unable to finish the prey at one sitting as bobcats can barely eat more than 3 pounds of meat at a go. When they can’t finish their prey, they will hide it with grass, dirt, or snow to conceal it from other carnivores. Later on, they would come back and dig up the remains to eat up. This habit is common when they kill big deer and goats.
Is a Bobcat Endangered?
Bobcats have different statuses in the various American States. In some states, they are listed as endangered and protected species. In the time past, there was a significant decrease in the population of bobcats, but of late, the population has enjoyed a resurgence with there estimated to be about a million bobcats in the United States by 2009.
In New Jersey, bobcats are listed as non-game mammal species. In the 1800s, with a surging trend in deforestation up to the 1970s, the bobcat also went extinct there. Hence authorities in New Jersey designated bobcats as endangered species in June 1991. With controlled breeding and protection, the population is growing impressively in New Jersey today.
However, in Florida, there is a large population of bobcats. Therefore, authorities in Florida don’t see bobcats as endangered species. Since they are not officially classified as threatened species, Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission officially see bobcats as fur-bearing game animals. Therefore, there are strict hunting seasons for hunting bobcats in Florida.
What is the Average Weight of a Bobcat?
For an adult male bobcat, their weight ranges from 14 to 40 lb. The average weight of such adult male bobcat is about 21 lb. For the female adult bobcat, the weight ranges from 8.8 to 33.7 lb, while the average female bobcat weight is 15 lb.
The highest a bobcat has weighed historically is 49 lb. There have been reports of bobcats weighing as high as 60 lb, but these reports are not officially confirmed yet.
Do Bobcats Purr?
Smaller cats like your domestics like bobcats purr. They belong to the Felinae family. For larger cats belonging to the Pantherinae family-like lions, clouded leopards, jaguars and tigers, they don’t usually purr. The regular leopard, however belonging to the Pantherinae family can yet purr.
When bobcats purr, there is a vibration of its larynx prompting a resonation of its hyoid bones. Bones run from the base of the bobcat’s skull to the back of its tongue. Purring has different interpretations. Commonly, purring is seen as a sign of satisfaction from a cat, possibly after a good meal.
There has been another school of thoughts that if little kittens purr, they will attract predator who would interpret such faint purrs as from a likely prey. So the mother cat will purr to camouflage those of her kittens to ward off any predator warning it of being a match for it.
Do Bobcats Like Catnip?
Bobcats just like tigers and lions respond to catnip however with varying level of attraction. This is a shared cat trait. While older bobcats may not appear too interested in catnips, younger ones can get excited about it.
Combined research carried by zoologists from the Knoxville Zoological Park and the University of Tennessee showed that bobcats would respond similarly to catnip just like your house cat.
Therefore aside a tendency to be attracted by it, bobcats could lick on the catnip if sprayed on rocks. They would eagerly sniff it, rub their chin on it, lick it, and even roll on them while your house cat would easily lose interest in catnip in less than 15 minutes. Bobcats may be interested for longer.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare