The United States is home to a plethora of wildcats. From Bobcats to tigers, there are many wildcats spread across several states of the US. In most cases, these cats usually live in forests, swamps, and in semi-deserts. Just like any other cat, these creatures are carnivorous in nature. Besides this, they are nocturnal animals and therefore, are mostly active at night. Since most of these cats usually resemble each other, some of the commonly confused wildcats are the mountain lion and the bobcat.
In fact, if you have been in the park recently, you might not easily tell the difference between the two. After all, they belong to the same kingdom, same phylum, same class, same order, and same family as far as their classification is concerned. However, these creatures differ in a number of aspects. In this article, we shall outline these aspects so that you can know the difference between these two wildcats.
What is a Mountain Lion?
The above-mentioned wildcat is a large, tan-colored wildcat that is native to Central America, North America, and South America. To put it into perspective, this wildcat is predominant in Florida and the western states. Unlike other cats, this one has other names such as puma, cougar, panther, and catamount.
Therefore, it is not a wonder to hear any of these words being used in reference to the same animal. It is imperative to note that these agile creatures are very aggressive and jump as high as 20 feet from the ground. Besides being agile, these wildcats have perfected their hunting skills and communicate more effectively.
What is a Bobcat?
Unlike the mountain lion, the bobcat is a medium-sized wildcat. In fact, this wildcat measures the size of two domestic cats combined. As far as its habitat is concerned, this wildcat lives in North America and also in Northern Canada. Unlike other cats, this one can like in many habitats such as brushland, mountains, forests, conifer swamps, semi-deserts, and so on.
As we speak, there are 12 sub-species of this wildcat, and they vary when it comes to geographical and coloration range. For instance, those found in the mountainous forests tend to be darker than those which are found in the semi-arid and arid areas. Just like a normal wildcat, these creatures usually have an excellent sense of hearing, sight, and smell. As far as their lifespan is concerned, they can live in the wild for about 12 years. However, there is one bobcat that lived for 16 years, making it to be one of the oldest bobcats in history.
Main Difference Between a Mountain Lion And a Bobcat
Although these wildcats are carnivorous in nature, they have some differences that set them apart. Here are some notable differences that distinguish these two wildcats:
- Location: As we mentioned above, the mountain lion is predominant in Mexico, Central America, North America, and South America. On the other hand, the bobcat is mainly found in North America. However, you can still find some in Northern Canada.
- Habitat: As far as their habitat is concerned, these creatures differ. For instance, the bobcat is known to live in swamps, deserts, and mountainous forests. On the other hand, its counterpart is known to live both in the mountains and in the forest.
- Speed: Both wildcats are known to be agile animals. They are capable of chasing their prey until they get hold of it. However, their top speeds differ by a small margin. For instance, the bobcat has a top speed of 55kph while its counterpart has a top speed of 45kph. This shows that the bobcat is faster than the mountain lion.
- Prey: Although these wildcats are carnivorous in nature, their prey differs. For instance, the bobcat usually feeds on mice, deer, and rabbits. However, the mountain lion feeds on squirrels, deer, porcupines, raccoons, and coyotes.
- Gestation period: The gestation period for a mountain lion is approximately 90 days. However, that of its counterpart is relatively shorter as it is 70 days.
- Estimated population size: As far as their population is concerned, you will note that the bobcats are more than the mountain lions. This is because the population for the bobcats stands at 1.2 million while that of its counterpart is 800000.
- Lifespan: A bobcat can live between 12 and 15 years. However, its counterpart has a shorter lifespan as it only lives between 8 and 13 years.
From their location to their lifespan, there are many aspects that differentiate these two wildcats. It is therefore important that you take note of these differences so as to avoid confusing the bobcat for the mountain lion and vice versa. Take note of the differences mentioned above, and you will be able to distinguish a mountain lion from a bobcat.