The state of Vermont is home to dozens of mammals that range in size from tiny shrews to giant moose.1 If you’re wondering if there are any big cats in Vermont, the answer is yes! Two wild cats are living in this northeastern state: the Canada Lynx and the Eastern Bobcat.
Because both of these wild cats are found in Vermont, it’s easy to mix the two up. After all, the two big cats are similar in size and appearance, at least at first glance.
If you’ve been lucky enough to spot a wild cat in Vermont and are unsure of what type you saw, the following information should help.
The Difference Between the Canada Lynx and the Eastern Bobcat
As similar as the two big cats may be to the untrained eye, there are several distinguishing features to help you differentiate between a Canada Lynx and an Eastern Bobcat.
Both the Canada Lynx and Eastern Bobcat share a common ancestor in the Eurasian Lynx. However, both species developed independently and thousands of years apart. They do, however, share some similarities in how they look and behave.
As far as behavior goes, the Canada Lynx and Eastern Bobcat are shy and reclusive nocturnal animals, which is why they’re seldom seen. The main difference between these two wild cats is their size.
The Canada Lynx Is Bigger Than the Eastern Bobcat
The Canada Lynx is larger than the Eastern Bobcat, as the Canada Lynx stands between 19–22 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 11–40 pounds. The Canada Lynx also has hind legs that are longer than its front legs, which gives it an arched back and hips that are higher than its shoulders. Additionally, the Canada Lynx has bigger paws with more thick fur covering them so they work like snowshoes in deep snow.
The Eastern Bobcat only stands between 12–22 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 9–36 pounds, making it significantly smaller than the Canada Lynx. This wild cat’s hind legs are nearly as long as its front legs, giving the animal a more streamlined look with a straight back.
The paws of the Eastern Bobcat are smaller than those of the Canada Lynx and they’re not covered with so much fur. The smaller paws lacking extra fur make the Eastern Bobcat less equipped to deal with heavy snow.
The Two Cats Differ in Color and Their Ears Aren’t Alike
A Canada Lynx has muted beige-colored fur with slight dark spotting. This wild cat has big tufts of hair growing on top of its big ears. The face of a Canada Lynx is striking in appearance because it’s lined with a thick, furry mane.
The Eastern Bobcat looks different with more prominent leopard-like spots on its beige-colored fur. This cat also has smaller ears with shorter tufts, and it doesn’t have a thick mane around its face like the Canada Lynx.
The Definitive Proof Is the Tail Color
Both the Canada Lynx and Eastern Bobcat have stubby tails. However, upon closer inspection, the Canada Lynx has an entirely black-tipped tail while the Eastern Bobcat has a slightly longer tail that’s black on top and white underneath.
Both Cats Hunt at Night and Hide During the Day
As nocturnal animals, both the Canada Lynx and Eastern Bobcat are awake at night. These animals do most of their hunting under the cover of darkness looking for prey, which consists of hares, rabbits, moles, shrews, mice, birds, squirrels, and even deer.
During the daytime hours, both of these big cats sleep and hide in secluded places like caves, rock crevices, and thick tangles of fallen trees and brush.
Of all the mammals living in Vermont, none compare to the two big wild cats prowling through this northeastern state. Vermont is home to the Canada Lynx and the Eastern Bobcat which look alike to the untrained eye. However, upon closer inspection, these two wild cats differ significantly in size and appearance.
Consider yourself lucky if you spot either of these big cats in Vermont because they’re very elusive animals that sleep during the day!