Bobcats are one of North America’s most versatile predators. They can be found throughout the United States and survive in most climates. While deadly and incredibly successful, we rarely see out in the open, which is by design.
Bobcats have created a niche in the environment by sticking to the shadows and hunting when the time is just right.
These pint-sized felines have learned to avoid humans and hunt, on their terms, in the shadows. This knowledge is so vital for bobcats that it affects their sleep and behavior throughout the year, which is different from our own but also highly successful.
Read on as Floofmania dives into everything there is to know about when bobcats are most active.
Are Bobcats Nocturnal or Diurnal?
Table of Contents
Bobcats are primarily nocturnal, waking up and going about their business only when the sun goes down. The night is when bobcats are usually out hunting or searching for a mate.
When Are Bobcats The Most Active?
While nocturnal, bobcats won’t always be running around during the whole night; instead, they have peak hours when they are most active and do their most intensive activities.
On average, bobcats wake up, begin their hunt a couple of hours before sunset, and continue until midnight.
These are their peak hours, though bobcats continue to be active well past midnight and even up to the break of dawn.
Outside conditions, such as the environment and the time of year, play a huge role in determining when a bobcat goes out hunting.
In urban areas, bobcats need to be more active later at night than those in remote areas. When living close to humans, these small cats learn to avoid trouble by staying away from humans, who might hunt them. The safest way is to wait and only hunt once everyone is fast asleep.
Are Bobcats Active During the Day?
While it is unusual, it’s not unheard of for bobcats to be active during the day. Just as we humans might stay up past our bedtimes, bobcats can also change their sleeping patterns.
The biggest reason bobcats might change their schedule and stay up during the day is hunting. If their prey isn’t nocturnal and is active during the day, bobcats will stay up and go after them during the day.
Another reason could be a change in season. During winter, some animals might be more active during the day, such as snowshoe hares which will get bobcats to adjust their sleeping schedule and try to hunt them.
Why Do Bobcats Prefer Going Out At Night?
So it is safe to say that bobcats are creatures of the night, but that still leaves the question as to why. These cats don’t wait until the sun sets just because they want to.
Like other animals, bobcats won’t behave a certain way without reason. Being active at night helps them, and there are several reasons why:
- To maximize their natural abilities.
- To go out when their prey is awake.
- To avoid human contact.
Bobcats are Better Night Hunters
The biggest reason for their nocturnal activity is their natural abilities are better suited for these conditions. Like all cats, bobcats have excellent night vision; this, coupled with their powerful ears, makes them ideal night hunters.
Not all animals will have these abilities, so bobcats have a tremendous advantage over them.
Bobcats Wait For Their Prey to Wake Up
One primary reason bobcats hunt at night is that many of their prey are also nocturnal.
Animals such as fawn, mice, and hares are common prey for bobcats and, like them, are active at night. If a bobcat wants to catch them, it should wait until its prey is also wandering the forest.
Although hunting these animals while they are sleeping might seem simpler, that is easier said than done. Many of the bobcat’s prey know they are targets of these predators and hide in isolated or hard-to-reach areas during the day. These areas make it difficult for our furry friends to reach their prey even if they can find them.
The other big reason is how bobcats hunt. While they are predators, they are only slightly larger than dogs, so they can’t just rely on strength. If they want to eat, bobcats have to be smart with how they hunt.
Instead of chasing down animals, they are ambush predators. These clever animals wait in places where their prey might pass by and pounce on them. To do that, bobcats have to take their hunt when their prey is awake.
It is also why bobcats might modify their sleeping patterns. If these animals become more active during day time, bobcats will need to wake up earlier to have more opportunities to catch them.
What Time Of Year Are Bobcats The Most Active?
Bobcats are active throughout the year since they don’t hibernate or migrate. Their period of greatest activity is probably during the winter.
These cats are well adapted for the cold, so it’s business as usual once the snow begins to fall. They don’t hibernate, and as long as the temperature does not drop too much, they can hunt like normal.
Aside from the mating season, winter is also when many of the bobcat’s prey are more active during the day. Normally nocturnal animals such as snowshoe hares will spend more time awake during the day, and bobcats will adjust their schedule to hunt them.
When Is The Bobcat’s Mating and Birthing Season?
Although bobcats can breed throughout the year, the primary breeding season occurs during the winter around December to February, though mating as early as November and as late as April happens from time to time.
If a female does get pregnant, gestation lasts another two months, though periods as long as 70 days can also happen.
Many cubs can be born around the middle of the year, and the average litter ranges from two to seven cubs.
Do Bobcats Come Out In All Types Of Weather?
Aside from time, bobcats are also affected by the weather. Like humans, our feline friends prefer some weather conditions over others. These might be times when they are more comfortable or when they can have an easier time hunting.
Bobcats and Windy Weather
When it comes to weather, a windy night is probably one of the best times for a bobcat to go hunting. On top of their excellent hearing and sight, bobcats also have a well-developed sense of smell which they rely on for hunting.
During windy nights, bobcats can use the air to track prey scents since they can pick up scents in the wind. This makes finding their prey easier since the scent can lead them right towards prey.
Bobcats and Heat
Although bobcats can survive in many climates, they have their limits with heat. Even bobcats in the desert prefer to stay close to shade and cooler areas when it gets too hot.
This leads bobcats to gravitate to higher elevations where the air is cooler and can get a stronger breeze. Bobcats will limit their activity to these areas during hot days.
Bobcats and the Rain
Compared to other felines, bobcats have a higher tolerance for water. They can swim and jump into puddles when necessary, so they are not as severely affected by the rain, though that depends on how strong it is.
During a drizzle, the rain should not be too much of a problem, and bobcats can continue to hunt as they usually do.
But just because the bobcat doesn’t mind the rain doesn’t mean it’ll run outside during a storm. If the rain gets too intense, bobcats will avoid going out until the weather clears up. Rain may also interfere with their sense of smell and hearing.
Bobcats in the Cold
Bobcats seem to deal with the cold well to a certain degree. They do not hibernate and can hunt throughout the year, including winter, as their long, thick fur protects them from getting too cold.
However, as with the heat, there are limits to what a bobcat can handle. While a bit of cold is alright with them, too much can be harmful. This is why you don’t see bobcats in the northern parts of Canada, where the temperature is just too cold for our furry friends.
How Do Bobcats Deal With Extreme Weather?
Conditions can get brutal in the wilderness, especially when the weather is concerned. Aside from regular weather, there are also extreme weather conditions, the kind of things that leave us either locked in our houses or evacuating.
Bobcats do not have that luxury and have to get resourceful with how they cope with extreme weather.
Bobcats and Storms
A storm is a dangerous weather situation to be out in, especially for wild animals. At the best of times, it makes hunting more difficult; at the worst, it can cause accidents, and bobcats are well aware of this.
If a storm is brewing, odds are you won’t see any bobcats wandering around. These cats might try to grab a meal before it starts raining but will quickly return to their territory once the rain begins, to wait it out.
Bobcats and Fires
A forest fire is probably one of the worst disasters that can strike animals. These can level vast swaths of territory and leave the woods devastated for years to come.
For the forest inhabitants, it can cause a drastic change in their environment, assuming they make it out.
Bobcats can weather forest fires quite well compared to other animals, and they are pretty agile and can outrun any infernos without a problem. It is quite rare for a bobcat to succumb to either fire or smoke, but even if they survive, they will need to make adjustments.
If they remain in the territory after the fire, these tenacious cats can still hunt, using burnt trees as cover from which to pounce on returning animals as the forest recovers.
If the forest is too damaged, bobcats can relocate to healthier areas. They have a wide range, so they can migrate to other places and settle into new habitats.
Bobcats and Hurricanes
When it comes to powerful weather such as hurricanes, bobcats respond to it the same way anyone would, hole up and try to wait it out. There is not much they can do since bobcats won’t be able to hunt as they usually do. The only other thing they can do is leave the area and try to find a safer place.
Aside from the obvious dangers of hurricanes, they can also mess with a bobcat’s senses so even if they do want to go out, it can make hunting more difficult.
Author: Quade Ong
Hello there, my name is Quade. I have been a writer for three years but an animal lover for over two decades. I grew up in one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, which has given me the blessing of seeing all sorts of beautiful animals. Now I strive to learn not just about the animals I am from, but those all over the world!