2 Species of Wild Cats in Delaware (With Pictures)
By Ed Malaker
If you are an avid outdoors person living in the Delaware area, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen one or two cats that look different than your common housecat. Many people may wonder what species of wild cats exist in this area. Keep reading while we list the different cat species that you can find in the state.
The 2 Species of Wild Cats in Delaware
|Size:||Up to 2.5 feet long|
|Weight:||Up to 40 pounds|
If you have seen a strange cat on your property or in the woods, there’s a good chance that it was a bobcat, as this animal is fairly common in Delaware. Some people call it a red lynx, and you can find it across North America. It’s a hardy animal with strong population numbers even after extensive hunting for sport and fur. It has a tan to grey-brown coat with black streaks on the body and black spots on the front legs and chest. Bobcats usually grow to just under 3 feet long from the head to the base of the tail, and they can weigh up to 40 lb. It primarily eats smaller animals like rabbits, but it will attack larger animals if food is scarce.
2. Mountain Lion
|Size:||Up to 9 feet long|
|Weight:||More than 200 pounds|
The mountain lion is a large species of wildcat that can grow to more than 8 feet long and weigh more than 150 pounds. It has a light brown coat with a white underside. It is a dangerous predator that can reach speeds of more than 40 miles per hour. Many call this cat a cougar or a puma. It usually sticks to coastal forests and deserts below 10,000 feet above sea level. It has a large range that can reach more than 100 square miles. Although they are more common in the western United States, there are several reports of people seeing them in Delaware every year. That said, many experts consider the population of mountain lions in the state to be zero.
Top 4 Species of Wild Cats in America
1. Canadian Lynx
|Size:||40 inches long|
The Canadian lynx is a wildcat that as the name suggests, typically sticks to a range across Canada into Alaska. However, some people see it in the most northern states of America, though it is unlikely to get as far south as Delaware. These cats have long, dense fur, and their triangular ears have long black tufts at the tips, giving them the appearance of horns. They are slightly larger than the bobcat, reaching more than 40 inches in length and weighing more than 40 pounds.
|Size:||40 inches long|
The ocelot is a medium-sized cat that usually sticks to the south and central American regions, preferring to live along the Amazon River. However, you will sometimes see them in Texas and Arizona. These cats enjoy tropical forests and usually grow to a length of 39 inches from the head to the base of the tail. They usually weigh 25–40 pounds. Their brown and white fur has many black markings that are smaller on the head and legs, with larger bands on the face, back, and sides. Most people who encounter these cats report that they have a strong odor.
|Size:||3 feet tall|
|Weight:||More than 200 pounds|
The jaguar is a large cat with similar markings to the ocelot, but the jaguar has rosettes instead of spots and stripes. They are also much larger and heavier, with dense muscles. It’s the third largest cat in the world, behind only the lion and tiger, standing almost 3 feet tall and often weighing more than 200 lb. Jaguars with a melanistic condition all have black fur, causing people to refer to them as black panthers. Unfortunately, due to extensive hunting for their fur, the population of jaguars is declining. They are most common in South America and Mexico but have ventured into Arizona.
|Size:||25 inches long|
The Jaguarundi is a medium-sized cat with a slender build. It has a uniform color that can be gray or brown and usually grows about 2 feet long from the head to the base of the tail, weighing about 15 pounds. You will usually find these cats in South America, east of the Andes, in Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela. A few people have claimed to see one in Florida, but it’s unlikely to have ever made it to Delaware.
How Can I Keep Bobcats Off My Property?
Bobcats are usually shy and reclusive and don’t usually cause many problems for homeowners unless they have chickens or other fowl. A bobcat is most likely just interested in rodents on your property, so you can typically leave them alone. However, if you have small pets and need to keep bobcats away, using motion-activated lights and noise makers can be extremely effective. If you see one, try banging pots together or squirting the sprinkler at them, and they will usually move on to a quieter place. Remove any fallen vegetation or bird seed that might attract rodents and create a food source for the bobcat. Bring in your small pets at dusk, and make sure the chicken coop is in good condition so the bobcat can’t get inside.
What Are My Chances of Encountering a Mountain Lion?
Fortunately, your chances of seeing a mountain lion in Delaware are extremely slim, since this wildcat species does not live in the eastern United States. While there have been many reports over several years, no official sightings have come in to confirm that the mountain lion stays anywhere in the state.
What If I See a Mountain Lion?
If you spot a mountain lion as you go through the woods, experts recommend that you stay calm and hold your ground. Face the lion, and stand upright while slowly backing away without turning your head. Once you get far enough, the lion will often turn away and move on, as they usually don’t like confrontation. Turning and running can initiate a chase that will likely not end well. Never bend over or crouch down, as it can make you appear as prey. Pick up small children so they don’t start to run without bending over or looking away.
If you have seen a strange cat while walking through the woods in Delaware, it was most likely a bobcat, as the animal is fairly widespread across North America. Bobcats are small cats that are usually less than 3 feet long, with a brown body and plenty of black spots and stripes. If the cat was quite large with a solid color, there’s a small chance that you spotted the elusive mountain lion that people have been reporting for many years. This is extremely rare, however, and the cat is likely just passing through to somewhere else.
Featured Image Credit: 3031830, Pixabay