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Are There Wild Cats in Florida?

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

bobcat in zoo

You wake up in the middle of the night and hear a strange noise coming from your front yard, and when you roll out of bed to check your cameras you find a pair of piercing yellow eyes staring back at you. Yes, Florida is home to two species of wildcat.

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, you probably want to know what kind of wildcat has wandered into your yard. Continue reading, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know to determine which of the two has invaded your space.

The Florida Bobcat

Commonly referred to as The Florida Lynx, The Florida Bobcat is the smaller and much more common of the two. Weighing 15 to 25 pounds and with a length of 2–4 feet, The Bobcat is about twice the size of your average housecat.

The Florida Bobcat has a coat that can be anywhere from grey to red and is covered with black spots. It’s named after its short, bobbed tail. So, if you see one of these on your camera at night, should you be alarmed?

bobcat lying on the ground
Image Credit: aiamkay, Pixabay

Are Florida Bobcats Dangerous?

While Bobcat attacks on people are very rare, The Bobcat is still very dangerous. Bobcats pose a threat to domestic animals like house cats and small dogs. In order to keep Bobcats off your property, you should bring pets and their food inside overnight and avoid feeding wild animals such as deer and rabbits.

The Florida Panther

Florida Panthers are the larger of the two and are very rarely seen in the wild—it’s believed less than two hundred of them remain in Florida. They weigh 100–160 pounds and have a length of 5–7 feet.

Unlike the Bobcat, the Florida Panther has a tail as long as its body. Additionally, the Florida Panther has tan fur, with white under the chin and black behind the ears. Many people believe panthers have black fur; however, panthers have never been observed with any color of fur other than tan.

florida panther in the wild
Image Credit: Rejean Bedard, Shutterstock

Are Florida Panthers Dangerous?

There has never been a documented case of a panther attacking a human in Florida. However, if you do encounter a panther, you should give the animal lots of space and make yourself appear larger. Avoid running from the panther, crouching, or bending over.

So, now that you know the two types of wildcats in Florida, you might be wondering how to protect your pets from any kinds of wildlife in the area.

Safety Tips for Protecting Your Pets from Wildlife

The best way to keep a cat safe is to keep it indoors, but many cat owners want their furry friends to get fresh air and exercise. In order for your cat to get exercise and fresh air, consider training your cat to walk on a leash or bringing elements from the outside inside for your cat to enjoy.

Dogs need exercise and most owners give their dogs exercise by taking them for a walk. While walking your dog, make sure to keep them on a leash and keep them away from bushes and debris that could hide animals like snakes. Also, avoid walking your dog at dusk and dawn when coyotes are most prevalent.

Final Thoughts

Both Florida Panthers and Bobcats reside within “The Sunshine State.” Now that you know how to recognize them, the differences between them, and how to deal with them, you’re better equipped to deal with a wildcat on your property.

Featured Image Credit: bmarxdueren, Pixabay

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