My in-laws are fixing up a house they own in Port Charlette, Florida, to snowbird in. It is located on a canal which is less than a mile away from alligator bay, which leads directly to the Gulf of Mexico. The houses are scattered, with as many vacant lots as there are developed ones. Their yard is untreated and absolutely loaded with clover, which attracts all sorts of wildlife.   

During the week of Thanksgiving, I was sitting out back by the pool when a very large feline caught my eye. When my brother-in-law and I investigated, we were shocked to see a bobcat staring at us from about thirty feet away. It entered a thickly overgrown vacant lot and, with the hope that it would continue its line of travel, we rushed around front to see if it would come out. Sure enough, that bobcat came out into the middle of the road and just stood there looking at us. It was never scared as it entered another undeveloped lot. 

Part of me felt sorry for that poor thing, being trapped in such an urban development. Coyotes seem to adapt the urban lifestyle with little difficulty, but I never dreamed that a bobcat could. Apparently, this cat has known no other lifestyle and seems to get along just fine. In the wild, a bobcat’s home range can expand to five to six square miles, but the urban cats usually live within one to two square miles.

Seeing a bobcat during the day is not uncommon down here. They sleep two to three hours at a time and roam in between naps, but most of their hunting is done at night. In Florida, squirrels, rabbits and rats are the primary prey species. Occasionally, a domestic cat or dog will fall into the bobcat’s menu. The bobcats’ winter diet seems to include more of the many migrating birds that spend winter in Florida, like towhees, robins, catbirds and thrashers.   

In my 20 years in Jackson, I heard three bobcats and saw one driving home at night. To have this semi-domesticated bobcat just boldly show itself is quite the unusual treat. It was about twice the size of a normal domestic cat and moved with an incredible, graceful posture. I hope to see it again. They have seen it on two more occasions since we left. The adaptability of wildlife never ceases to amaze me.  

 

God bless you all, RHM