How long do bobcats stay with their mother?

The answer to the question in the title is a little bit elastic because the moment when young bobcats no longer stay with their mother is itself elastic and they disperse at various ages. Essentially the answer is: until 7-12 months of age, but dispersal occurs at 9-24 months of age.

Adult bobcat
Bobcat photograph by PD Ryan on Flickr.

My resource, which is the excellent book Wild Cats of the World by the equally excellent Mel and Fiona Sunquist, states that "Kittens are dependent on their mother until about seven months of age, after which they spend progressively more time away from her, although some mother-young associations may last a year or more".

You see what I mean by the elasticity of that moment? It varies from seven months to 12 months.

The authors go on to state that before bobcats become adult in terms of size and weight young bobcats leave their "natal ranges" (the home range of their mother) and wonder looking for a home of their own in "unoccupied habitat". They become part of a "transient or floating population" of bobcats.

And then the bobcat disperses by which the authors mean bobcats leave their mother's home and set up their own home permanently. This moment varies also with some young leaving as early as nine months of age while others might be two years of age before they disperse and become an independent bobcat living in their own home range.

And the way this takes place also varies with some young bobcats upping sticks suddenly and rapidly travelling many kilometres while others may take several months to do the same thing.

Sometimes, rarely, an individual might set up home in their mother's range if, for example, the mother has disappeared or has died.

Newly adult bobcats want their home range because it's a prerequisite for successful reproduction.

How far do bobcats travel in a day? Studies on radio-tagged bobcats indicate that the distance they travel in one day varies with male bobcats travelling farther than females and movement patterns vary by season and region, but estimates vary between as little as 2.6 km to 18.5 km per day. The longer distances are normally associated with the mating season.

How long is a bobcat's tail? The tale is about 14 cm long being white underneath and marked with dark bands above.

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