bobcat with gopher

A Bobcat carries a freshly-caught pocket gopher in its mouth in Bear Valley Springs.

Contributed by Toshimi Kristof

Toshimi Kristof took this photo in Bear Valley Springs of a Bobcat (Lynx rufus) with a freshly-caught pocket gopher in its mouth. Kristof explains: "At about 8 a.m., I was sitting in my breakfast nook and looking outside, when suddenly a bobcat showed up. I always have a camera with me so I was able to start shooting, and then I realized she had her breakfast in her mouth. This is a female and I think our yard is part of her territory, since we see her quite often."

Unlike coyotes, which are omnivores that will eat a huge variety of items, including some that barely classify as food, bobcats are strict carnivores and small mammals are their favorite prey. Lagomorphs like Audubon's Cottontails and Black-tailed Jackrabbits are among their preferred menu items, but they often take the smaller and more numerous rodents, like gophers, voles, mice, rats, ground squirrels, etc.

Like housecats, the best Bobcat hunters are mothers with offspring to feed. Since the father provides no assistance in the raising of the kittens, providing for herself and her babies falls completely to the mother Bobcat, and she is tireless as she hunts to feed her young.

This particular beautiful tawny Bobcat is a perfect example of a type known as a "marmalade cat" and they are distinctive for the bright orange hue of their coats. Other Bobcats may be considerably more gray, and can be either darker or paler than this one.

The Nüwa (Kawaiisu or Paiute) word for Bobcat is tukutsi, pronounced TUH-kutts.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: editorial@tehachapinews.com.