What Do Bobcats Eat: Diet of Bobcats From Squirrels to Snakes

Bobcat belongs to the lynx family. It is the most famous wild cat you can find in the North American region. It shows a lot of resemblance with its cousin Canadian Lynx. These wild cats have a very stable population but you can rarely spot them as they are very secretive and like to stay away from humans. Many people want to know about their diet. They occasionally raise this question what do bobcats eat?

Bobcats are carnivores like other cats. They like to hunt down small or medium-sized prey for their diet. In very rare cases, they engage with large animals for their diet. It usually happens when they have nothing to eat. In this article, we will tell you in detail about all the eating habits of bobcats.

What do bobcats eat
What do bobcats eat?

What do bobcats eat?

Many people like to know what do bobcats hunt or eat?. Being carnivore animal, bobcat likes to eat meat only. They primarily rely on animal meat for their proteins. They are very skilled predators and use all their senses while hunting. The diet of the bobcat includes a variety of animals. They mainly prefer small mammals like rabbits, hares, squirrels, mice, rats, ground-nesting birds, and rodents.

But they are also capable of hunting down some large animals like beavers, snakes, lizards, skunks, and deer. If food is scarce and they have nothing to eat they could also pounce on domestic pets like cats, and dogs or smaller livestock like goats, pigs, sheep, and poultry.

It means the diet of bobcats mainly depends on what is around and easily available for hunting. According to the journal of wildlife management, there is an abundance of snowshoe hares in the Maine state of USA. It is the primary source of food for almost 75% of the bobcats living in this state.

It was also found out after very deep research that bobcats also like to hunt in very dense forest areas where hardwood trees are abundant. Bobcats are extremely good at hunting and they are also surplus killers and like to kill a lot of animals. They eat a lot of food and store or hide the remaining food for future needs.

Are bobcats carnivores or omnivores?

Bobcats are carnivores as they only like to eat meat. Omnivore animals have an inclination toward both meat as well as plants but bobcat doesn’t like to eat plants under any condition. They fulfill most of their nutritious needs by eating meat or taking proteins from their prey.

What is the bobcat’s favorite food?

What is the bobcat's favorite food
A bobcat eating a rodent in the mountains.

Bobcats can hunt down many small as well as big size animals but they prefer to eat small or medium-sized animals. It is easy to target these animals as they don’t fight back. It is also easy to eat small mammals. Among the small mammals, they prefer to eat squirrels, rodents, and rabbits. Sometimes, they also target some ground-nesting birds like turkey, quail, and other similar bird species.

They have also been found responsible for the reduction in the quail population. Bobcats are also very found hunters of hares and rabbits. Overall, the bobcat’s preference for food mainly depends upon the habitat where they live or where there is easy availability of any of the above-mentioned mammals.

Here we have the list of the 10 most favorite foods of bobcats:

  • Squirrels.
  • Rabbits.
  • Rodents.
  • Snowshoe hares.
  • Lizards.
  • Raccoons.
  • Beavers.
  • Cotton rats.
  • Grouse.
  • Deer.

Bobcat diet in various habitats

Let’s have a look at bobcat food in various regions of the world.

Snowy regions

It is extremely difficult for the bobcat to find food in the winter or snowy regions. They have to face food scarcity for several days or weeks. However, they prefer to eat the following animals in the snowy regions.

  • Red squirrels (50%)
  • Cotton rats and mice (25%)
  • Snowshoe hares (12%)
  • Grouse (8%)
  • Deer (8%)

Mountainous regions

Bobcats are adaptable to various kinds of environments. They are also capable of living in mountainous regions. Several bobcats were found in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. In the mountainous region, the diet of the bobcat depends upon the season they are facing. The diet varies from spring to summer to winter. During the summer season, they like to eat a lot of rodents and beavers. During the fall season, they hunt a lot of deer, hares, and rodents and reduce the killing of animals like mice, rats, beavers, and birds. Here we have the primary source of bobcats’ food and their percentage in the mountainous regions.

  • Snowshoe hares (30%)
  • Black-tailed deer (22%)
  • Beaver (12%)
  • Rodents and moles (9-37 % depends upon the season)
  • Birds (10%)

Desert regions

Bobcat caught a rabbit for eating in the desert
Bobcat caught a rabbit for eating.

There are also a lot of bobcats who reside in the desert region. A study was conducted by well-known researchers about the bobcats who live in the Chihuahua desert of Mexico. In this dry and rocky region, the bobcat is the main wild cat. In this region, they like to eat rabbits, squirrels, mice, raccoons, and lizards. However, bobcats mainly eat rabbits because rabbits have a very stable population in this region.

Farmers in this region also keep protecting their livestock animals from bobcats as they occasionally attack these animals when they have nothing to eat or when they like to change their eating routine.

How do bobcats kill their prey?

Bobcats are in between nocturnal as well as crepuscular animals. They remain active throughout dawn and dusk. They come out during the early hours of the morning to stalk their prey. They wake up and come out before the sun set to hunt down their prey. They like to ambush their prey rather than run behind them for some distance. They have a very sharp hearing and sighting sense which they utilize for this purpose.

First, they observe their prey from some distance before ambushing them. Sometimes, they also wait for a very long and stay still like an idol in the wait for their prey to come out from the grass or shrub. In the end, they pounce on their animal and give a striking blow with its paw and target the neck of the prey.

What do baby bobcats eat?

What do baby bobcats eat
Baby bobcats drink milk till the age of 2 months.

Baby bobcats are named kittens. During the first days of their life, they completely rely on their mother for everything. They don’t hunt and in the first month of birth, they only prefer to drink the milk of their mother. They drink milk until they reach the age of two months when they become able to eat meat.

When they reach the age of 5 months, they start to come out from their dens with their mothers for hunting purposes. They go hunting when they become at least 1 year old.

How often do bobcats eat?

Generally, bobcats eat a lot of food. They are opportunistic predators. They pounce on their prey where ever they find the opportunity. They regularly hunt down small mammals like rodents, squirrels, etc. They go for large prey only when they have nothing to eat or small mammals are scarce in their region.

If they get an opportunity to kill any larger prey, they eat as much as possible and save the remaining carcass for future consumption. They like to hide the carcass under the snow or leaves.

Do bobcats eat humans?

It is generally an overstatement that bobcats can hunt or eat humans. They are solitary animals and most of the time avoid human beings as much as possible. If an encounter happens, then they might injure or little bit hurt the humans but they are not capable of killing human beings. However, it is recommended that people should stay away from or avoid bobcats as these are wild animals and could hurt you.

Do bobcats eat cats?

Bobcats like to eat meat. They especially target small mammals for this purpose as it is easy to hunt down these animals without giving a very tough fight. Cats are quite an easy meal for bobcats. Thus, they easily target cats as these are soft targets. That’s why it is said that you should keep your house cats inside when you think there is a bobcat in the surrounding.

Do bobcats eat coyotes?

Do bobcats eat coyotes
Coyotes are not among the prey of bobcats.

In simple words, bobcats cannot take down or eat coyotes. They might hurt or inflict damage on the coyotes with their teeth and claws but they are not able to hunt down or kill coyotes. Coyotes are very large animals with very heavy weights and large teeth.

If they fight with each in an open area, then there are much more chances that the coyotes will overpower or kill bobcats. There has also been no evidence in the literature about the bobcat’s prey on coyotes. Bobcats don’t engage with big and dangerous animals like coyotes.

Do bobcats eat deer?

Indeed, bobcats are carnivorous animals and they meet most of their protein needs from the meat of small animals like rabbits, squirrels, mice, rats, etc. They rarely attack large animals as they fear that these animals might fight back and they have to struggle a lot for getting food. In this case, there are also chances that bobcats get themselves killed.

However, there is one specific large animal that they can stalk and kill ultimately. In the winter months, when the bobcats have to face food scarcity and when there is also a shortage of rodents, bobcats target large animals like deer. There are very rare chances that the deer would fight back as they normally adopt defensive behavior.

Do bobcats eat snakes?

Bobcats usually adopt opportunistic hunting tactics and they go hunting wherever they find an opportunity suitable for them. They can target anything from birds, reptiles, and lizards to even venomous snakes. It is very well known that bobcats like to eat rattlesnakes although they are not immune from their venoms.

They have to go through a lot of pain if the snake successfully strikes them back or even if they successfully target and eat them. In 2015, a bobcat was also photographed while dragging a shark out of the surf.

Do bobcats eat foxes?

Yes, bobcats can eat foxes. Many other animals can also eat foxes like badgers, wolves, wolverines, etc. However, they are mainly targeted by animals like coyotes and eagles. Humans are also among the biggest predators of red foxes. They do it for the sake of fur or they considered their pest.

Do bobcats eat chickens?

Bobcat with its hunted chicken.
Bobcat with its hunted chicken.

Yes, bobcats can eat chickens. Bobcats mainly go hunting during the twilight hours of dusk and dawn. It means that they can attack any time of the day and snatch a chicken from your flock. Bobcats can eat a whole chicken in a single feeding. It is not usual or common for the bobcat to attack or kill domestic animals but they are very infamous for lambs, poultry, goats, pigs, and chickens.

Do bobcats eat raccoons?

Yes, bobcats can eat raccoons. It has been reported by experts that if a fight happens between a bobcat and a raccoon, the bobcat will take just 5 seconds to hunt down or kill the raccoon. It gets over before it starts. Large wild cats are also the main predators of raccoons. In North America, raccoons are mainly targeted by mountain lions, pumas, and bobcats.

Frequently asked questions

Bobcats have to face the scarcity of food during winter. Some animals like red squirrels, snowshoe hares, grouse, wood rats, mice, and voles are the animals that are primarily available for the bobcats in the winter. Deer are also a source of food for the bobcats in the winter but they mainly reside in higher elevations.

Carrion could also be the source of food for bobcats in the winter. They might have to face the scarcity of food in winter but they have some choices as we have mentioned above.

Bobcats are adaptable to various kinds of environments. They could also easily survive in desert-type regions. They could easily hide in the desert with the help of their fur which occasionally changes color. In rocky terrains and vegetated type areas in the desert, bobcats can hunt rabbits and rodents. In the inland desert regions, bobcats were also observed while preying on deer, uplands birds, and sheep.

It is not common for bobcats to eat or look for fish as a source of food. Fish is a very small percentage of their diet. Being opportunistic hunters, they don’t like to do a lot of struggle in search of fish hunting. They could only catch or eat fish if they find any good opportunity of catching fish.

Bobcats can eat a variety of foods. They can feed on sheep, goats, house cats, small dogs, poultry, exotic birds, and calves. However, they can also kill domestic as well as wild turkeys as a source of food. Bobcats climb on the night roosts of the turkeys and hunt them down.

Yes, bobcats will definitely eat hawks. Bobcats are very meticulous in their hunting and preying. They apply similar techniques to the hunting of hawks.

In Florida, rabbits, squirrels, and rats are abundant. These are the primary prey of a bobcat in Florida. Moreover, they could also attack and eat animals like domestic chickens and feral cats in the Florida region.


We have discussed the bobcat diet in detail. We have concluded that bobcats eat a variety of foods to fulfill their dietary needs. The diet of bobcats varies from one region to another. They are carnivores and only prefer to meet their nutritional needs from the meat of other animals. Bobcats like to target small mammals rather than large ones as they don’t like to engage in a long fight for a small quantity of food. Sometimes they also prey on some large animals like deer but it rarely happens. I hope this article helps you a lot in understanding the question of what do bobcats eat and the overall food pattern of bobcats.

Similar Posts