Bobcats, Lynx rufus, are the smallest of the four species of lynx with adult males generally weighing 9 to 13 kg and adult females from 6 to 9 kg. The normal colouration of the bobcat is light grey, buff, reddish-brown or yellow-brown. The cats arealways spotted, sometimes on the undersideand sometimeswith spots up the sides and over the chest and back. While the tail of the Canadian lynx is black all round the tip, the bobcat's tail is black only on the top and white underneath (Nowell and Jackson 1993). This can be seen clearly in the photo above of Ben Willis' bobcat, Exmoor.
Both melanistic and albino bobcats have been reported (Schantz 1939, Ulmer 1941, Young 1958) with melanistic bobcats only having been found in Florida (Regan and Maehr 1990).
The following photo of a black Bobcat was taken by Ben Willis.
This is a taxidermy mounted black bobcat which I photographed a few weeks ago. This mount has been on display at the 'Totemin Zoo' in Wilmington North Carolina for at least thirty years. It, along with a number of other mounts sustained some damage during Hurricane Fran in 1999.
The eyes, teeth, and the accuracy of some other characteristics were lost in the original mounting process. The coat appears to have faded somewhat since I intially saw the mount around 1971. The markings do not follow the common pattern of the bobcat as I would think a true melanistic animal would. It is also absent the normal bobcat beard, and the hair inside the ears are somewhat different for the southern cats.
This cat was purportedly collected in Florida some decades ago. Whether its a genuine melanistic bobcat, some mutated hybrid, or a different species altogether is a good question.
Nowell, K. and Jackson, P. (Eds) (1993) Wild Cats. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
Regan, T. and Maehr, D. (1990) Melanistic bobcats in Florida. Florida Field Nat. 18: 84-87.
Schantz, V.S. (1039) A white footed bobcat. J. Mammal. 20: 106.
Ulmer, F.A. Jr. (1941) Melanism in the Felidae, with special reference to the genus Lynx. J. Mammal. 22: 285-288.
Young, S.P. (1958) The bobcat of North America: its history, life, habits, economic status and control. Wildlife Management Institute, Washington DC.
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