Last month, the local news lit up with the story of the bobcat dragging a shark out of the ocean at Sebastian Inlet. Although many people thought that the picture was a hoax, local experts as well as wildlife experts state that it is probably very real. Although it’s highly unusual to see a bobcat in our area and it’s very rare for a bobcat to find dinner in salt water, the story is not outside the realm of possibility.
Bobcats are found throughout Florida – they are found in swamps, forests and even surrounding populated suburbs. Mostly nocturnal, they can sometimes be seen during the day because they only sleep for 2 to 3 hours at a time. They usually feast on small mammals, including mice, rats, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, birds and even feral cats sometimes. They usually don’t encounter pets or domesticated animals as these animals are too close to the human habitat.
Bobcats usually shy away from people, but may become easily adapted to people if they are used to finding sources of food and water in a backyard. For this reason, it is always best to tightly secure all food and garbage left outdoors.
Slightly smaller than its cousin, the panther, a bobcat can be identified by its bobbed tail. Bobcats are also identified by the pointy tuft of hair on the ears, the sideburns and the spotted markings on its fur. Although it’s unusual to see a bobcat find dinner in the ocean such as in the case of the news story, they are opportunistic predators and will take a meal where they can find it.
Bobcats can swim and climb, which allows them avoid becoming prey from almost anything except a human. They will sometimes make multiple dens and spend their time travelling from one to another. These dens are usually made in hollowed-out sections of a tree, holes in the ground and hollow logs.
Although a member of the cat family, bobcats make terrible pets. They require lots of room to roam and cannot be properly domesticated. The females are extremely territorial and will not share their space with another female.
If you see a bobcat in your own back yard, it’s important to make lots of noise and get your pets and small children inside. Bobcats are usually scared of humans and will almost always run off, but it’s best not to take chances. If you are already inside, grab your camera and take a few pictures since this is probably a rare event. If you continue to see a bobcat or it starts to become a nuisance, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to find local trappers permitted to trap and relocate bobcats.