Document Type



bobcat, food habits, Iowa, Lynx rufus, protected species


The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a widely distributed native felid of North America but nearly disappeared from Iowa due to habitat loss and unregulated harvest that occurred during the century after European settlement. Bobcats are repopulating the state and are now relatively common in southern Iowa. This study was part of a research project to understand the ecology of the species in Iowa's landscape so that conservation plans could be established. We determined food habits by the examination of stomach contents from 100 bobcat carcasses that were accidentally killed in traps, killed by automobiles, or radio-marked individuals found dead during 2002 to 2006 across southern Iowa. We found the remains of cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus) in 60%, mice (Peromyscus spp.) and voles (Microtus spp.) in about 20%, and fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) in nearly 15% of the stomachs. Deer occurred more frequently in the diet of adult bobcats (17%), especially males, than it did in the diet of juveniles (3%) and the small quantity and type of remains suggested that it was often taken as carrion. Evidence of birds appeared in 2% of the stomachs. These results are very consistent with dietary studies elsewhere in the species range. All of the primary mammalian prey taken by bobcats are abundant and widely-distributed in the forest-grassland edge habitats in which bobcats were most commonly located, suggesting that prey availability will not be a limiting factor to bobcat populations in Iowa.

Publication Date

January-December 2007

Journal Title

Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science





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© Copyright 2008 by the Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.



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