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The Nature of Things

by Karissa Stokdal

Please introduce yourself and tell us where you live.

A: Hi, I’m Rufus and I’m a Lynx rufus, but you probably know me as a bobcat. You may not have seen me around, but we bobcats live all over Dutchess County! We prefer areas full of hardwood forests, thick vegetation and swampy areas, making the Hudson Valley an ideal habitat. I live in the woodlands of Pleasant Valley and LaGrange in a territory that spans about twenty square miles.

Q: Who are you most often mistaken for?

A: People often confuse me with my cousin the mountain lion, but as you can see, I am much smaller! Unlike mountain lions, which can weigh up to 200 pounds, I only weigh about 20 pounds. I’m less than double the size of an average house cat. I am also commonly mistaken for the Canada lynx, but the tufts of my ears aren’t nearly as pointy! I also have very visible black spots, shorter legs and smaller paws.

Q: What are your plans this winter?

A: Many animals migrate or hibernate for the winter, but I won’t be doing either. My fur keeps me warm and I can go long periods without food. I am an excellent hunter and mostly feast on rabbits, small rodents and birds. During the winter months, I also hunt deer. Larger prey like this often takes me some time to finish, but I hide my leftovers and come back as needed. I am very shy and elusive, but if you live in a wooded area, maybe you can spot me while I’m out hunting. I become diurnal during the fall and winter seasons, which means I’m most active in the daytime!

Q: What’s your relationship status?

A: I prefer solitude, but by February it will be my mating season and I’ll find a female companion. After a few weeks of traveling together and mating, I will move on in hopes of finding another female. My mate will go through a gestation period of about two months before giving birth to three to six kittens in the spring. I’m not very good with kids, so I won’t stick around for all of that. They’ll stay with their mother for their first nine months and she’ll teach them how to hunt. Eventually, they’ll disperse on their own and their mother will be free to mate again. Because of this long cycle, female bobcats only have one litter per year.

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