Located in the midwestern area of the United States, the state of Nebraska stretches over 77,000 miles and has a population of just under 2 million people. Its large landscape is home to over 500 different wildlife species including mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The wide-spanning grasslands, wetlands, and forests offer suitable habitats to a few different species of wild cats as well.
But what wild cats can be seen in Nebraska? The three wild cats that may be seen in Nebraska and nearby are the cougar, the Canadian lynx, and the bobcat.
The 3 Types of Wild Cats in Nebraska
The cougar (scientific name: Puma concolor), also known as the puma or mountain lion, weighs 64 to 200 pounds. Females are closer to 80 lbs., and males are closer to 150 lbs. It is the largest wild cat in North America and also the largest on this list. It is the largest of all large wildcats in the western world and can be found anywhere from Canada to Asia.
Its easy adaptability is one reason for its large habitat range. Cougars are solitary, secretive animals. They are nocturnal and have a large prey base. The cougar most commonly preys on deer, but it also hunts rodents and large insects. It is a large cat, but it is not the only predator within its range. This position is often taken by larger predators such as the gray wolf or grizzly bear.
2. Canadian Lynx
The Canadian lynx (scientific name: Lynx canadensis) almost resembles a large house cat with pointed tips on its ears. These wildcats weigh about 18-25 lbs. and are one of the most populous small wild cats living in North America. The wildcat is known for its long tufts on the edges of its ears as well as a bobbed and black-tipped tail.
Its thick fur, long legs, and massive paws help it adapt to the cold environment of its habitat. The range of this cat stretches all throughout Canadian provinces and parts of the northern US. It mainly hunts deer and small game such as mice, livestock, and squirrels.
The Bobcat (scientific name: Lynx rufus) is another small wild cat species whose range stretches from Mexico way up to southern Canada. Bobcats can weigh anywhere from 12 to 40 lbs., and there are a dozen known different species of this particular wildcat. The medium-sized wildcat is often found in forest edges, wooded forests, and wetland habitats.
The bobcat is a skilled hunter and prefers to go after small game, which is mostly rabbits, rodents, and lizards. This wildcat also hunts rodents, small birds, and large insects if available.
The bobcat is a relatively solitary wildcat and super territorial about the area in which it lives. These cats have also been subjected to considerable hunting, but thanks to state regulations have since managed to maintain stable populations over the past two decades. However, habitat loss is still a very serious issue for their local populations.
Are There Other Wildcats Found in The United States?
Although not found in Nebraska, there is one other wildcat that can be found in the United States. The ocelot (scientific name: Leopardus pardalis) can reach 3 1/2 feet in length and weighs up to 35 lbs. This wildcat has a thick, dense coat that looks like a miniature leopard. The typical habitat range of the ocelot is extensive, extending from the southwest part of North America to South and Central America. It’s a great predator and is nocturnal, often heading out at night hours to stalk and hunt small prey. Although they are primarily able to hunt small animals on the ground, they can also attack turtles, anteaters, and other smaller deer.
Wrapping Things Up
Only a few wildcats are spotted in Nebraska, and they’re usually seen in the more mountainous and rural areas of the state where food is abundant. However, don’t be surprised if you catch one of these wildcats while going on a long drive across the state.
Featured Image Credit: xivic, Pixabay