Food Habits of Bobcats in Indiana


  • Cassie M. Hudson Indiana Department of Natural Resources
  • Scott A. Johnson Indiana Department of Natural Resources
  • Beth J. Geboy Indiana Department of Natural Resources
  • Heather D. Walker Indiana Department of Natural Resources


The food habits of bobcats (Lynx rufus) have been reported throughout North America but there are few published accounts from the midwestern United States where conversion of native habitats to agricultural use prompted historic declines in regional populations. We determined food habits of bobcats in Indiana by examining the stomach contents of 159 carcasses obtained primarily from collisions with vehicles and trap-related mortalities in 38 counties between 1990 and 2010. Thirty-eight stomachs were either empty or had only vegetation or woody debris. Mammalian prey was found in 94.2% of the remaining stomachs, whereas avian remains were present in 14 stomachs (11.6%). Leading prey items consumed year-round were eastern cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus; 35.5% occurrence), small mammals (e.g., Microtus spp., Peromyscus spp.; 26.4% occurrence), and tree squirrels (e.g., Sciurus niger, S. carolinensis; 15.7% occurrence). White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) were consumed exclusively in fall- winter, but seasonality of other prey species was not observed. Frequencies of most foods varied between sexes and among age classes but differences were not statistically significant. Bobcats in Indiana exploited a wide array of mammalian prey consistent with other studies throughout North America, and principal food items (e.g., rabbits, small mammals, sciurids) were equally as important in other midwestern states where diet has been assessed.