By Noah Austin / Photo by Bruce D. Taubert
There’s one very famous bobcat in Arizona: D. Baxter, the mascot for the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team. But the state is home to many other bobcats, and they’re particularly attracted to the outskirts of urban areas, where they sometimes attack house cats and other backyard animals. They also hunt rabbits, birds, mice and other small game, but they’ve been known to bring down sheep and deer, too. Their weapon of choice is a leaping pounce that can cover as much as 10 feet.
The bobcat is in the same genus as the lynx, but it’s smaller. Adults typically measure 28 to 39 inches long. They’re mostly solitary, but males and females come together during winter and early spring to mate, and when kittens — usually two, three or four of them — are born, their mother raises them alone, without the male.
Bobcats are nocturnal, so humans rarely see them, and their spots make them even better at hiding. According to one Shawnee legend, the bobcat got its spots when it chased a rabbit up a tree and built a fire to smoke the rabbit out. When the rabbit jumped into the fire, the legend goes, it scattered hot coals all over the bobcat’s coat. A more recent legend describes how D. Baxter willed the Diamondbacks to victory in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. Actually, that might have been Tony Womack and Luis Gonzalez. But the bobcat may have had something to do with it.