Bobcats (Lynx rufus) are known to be shy, elusive, and very secretive in nature. Their looks are similar to that of a house cat, albeit them being much larger. However, don’t be fooled by these descriptions. These felines are highly ferocious and are very powerful predators. The bobcat’s teeth and bite are the stuff of legends.
Is it true that bobcats have a biting force that exceeds those of much larger cats? Do they use their teeth in breaking the bones of their prey into tiny pieces? Will they bite you when encountering one? These are among the questions that we will be answering today.
What Kind Of Teeth Do Bobcats Have?
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Like most mammals, bobcats are heterodonts. They have teeth that are differentiated from each other and have different forms and sizes. These specialized teeth are used both for hunting and feeding.
Like humans and other mammals, bobcats have two sets of teeth throughout their lifetime. Newborn bobcat cubs start to grow deciduous teeth (baby or milk teeth) that are replaced by permanent teeth as they mature.
The deciduous teeth start erupting when the kitten reaches 11 days. By the 9th week, the set is complete. At age 4-5 months, the baby teeth start to get loose and are replaced by permanent teeth. The whole process of permanent teeth replacement is completed within 7 months.
Adult bobcats have a total of 28 teeth composed of 12 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars, and 4 molars. Two distinct features of bobcat teeth are their large canines and very sharp set of teeth.
Do Bobcats Have Sharp Teeth?
Bobcats are true predators, which means they have very sharp teeth. Along with their strong jaw, the bobcat’s sharp teeth are efficient tools for hunting and eating. They have large canines that can shear their prey’s flesh. Their premolars and molars are also very sharp and can cut meat into smaller bite-sized pieces.
What Do Bobcats Use Their Teeth For?
As bobcats are said to be specialized predators, their diet is composed of other animals. They get their nutrition exclusively from meat. That is what their teeth are primarily used for. They will cut and rip the meat into small pieces and then swallow them whole. Bobcats don’t chew their food.
These strong teeth are also efficient tools for hunting. These carnivorous mammals use their teeth to clamp down their prey by holding them by the neck. Like other wildlife predators, bobcats use their powerful bite to asphyxiate their victims.
Their favorite meal is rabbits but can also include turkeys, small birds, squirrels, and rats. Their diet list is longer as their choice of food is widely diversified. As long as they can bite and hold on to the animal, it is food for them. That may include your pets too!
Bobcats use their teeth, bite, and claws to ward off potential predators. Their powerful bite and sharp teeth are potent weapons that can cause considerable injuries to both their prey and predators.
How Strong Is A Bobcat Bite?
When you look at a bobcat, do you see an animal that can take down a deer just by biting it? Probably not. Who could imagine this medium-sized feline has the capacity to bring down animals that are much larger than them through their bite?
Let’s separate the myths from facts. Bobcats do have a very powerful bite. In fact, their bite force is around 450-500 Newtons. That kind of force is surprisingly strong relative to the bobcat’s size. Their bite is stronger than animals that are much bigger than them, like the lynx, dog, fox, coyote, snow leopard, and even a cheetah!
Such biting strength certainly gives these ferocious wild cats superior confidence. Smaller animals may be their staple meal, but if the situation calls for it, bobcats can take down prey ten times their size. They can take down an adult deer using their powerful bite and sharp teeth and feast on the meat for days. That’s a true hunter indeed.
This fact may not still include the bobcat on the list of most powerful animal bites in the world but it is still fascinating to know.
Will Bobcats Bite If You Approach Them?
It is very rare to see bobcats that are aggressive towards humans. They would typically flee when you approach them. You don’t have to worry when you see one. You’re not part of their dinner plans.
Having said that, you still need to be cautious when you see a bobcat. Nursing bobcats won’t flee if they have cubs around. Like all other wild animals, they are protective of their cubs and will attack if they perceive you as a threat to the latter’s safety.
There are some instances wherein bobcats with rabies behave strangely and can be super aggressive. Although extremely rare, rabid bobcats can and will attack humans. If you get bitten by one, we advise that you seek medical advice immediately.
Bobcats are fascinating creatures to watch. But you should watch them from afar to avoid close encounters with their teeth. You should never attempt to handle or touch a wild bobcat or her kittens.