Is it a bobcat or a mountain lion?
By Jessica Wolff, Urban Wildlife Coordinator, The Nevada Department of Wildlife
Size: Approximately 827 millimeters (32 inches) total length, Approximately 8.5 kilograms (18.7 lbs) female, Approximately 12 kilograms (26.4 lbs) male
Description: All species appear twice the size of a domestic cat. The bobcat’s fur is a dappled or mottle of brown and tan fur with white belly and dark markings. Often the cats have noticeable tuffs of fur on the ear tips. The tip of the tale is black. The three races are noted by their more general color shades as gray (lynx rufus pallescens), darker color (lynx rufus californicus), and reddish coloring (lynx rufus baileyi). Bobcats are digitigrade, meaning they walk on their toes, and have sharp retractable claws.
Size: An adult male can stand 30 inches at the shoulder and measure up to eight feet in length from nose to tail. Females are 3-4 inches shorter in height and a foot shorter in length. The tail makes up about one third of the body length. In Nevada, the average adult male mountain lion weighs 137 pounds and the average adult female weighs 98 pounds. Males up 180 pounds have been documented but are rare.
Description: The short dense fur of Nevada Mountain Lions varies from yellow, to tawny to rusty brown or gray. The underside of the body is white, and the tail is tipped in black. The back of the rounded ears and the sides of the nose are also colored black. The young are a similar light brown color but have brownish-black spots. Mountain Lions have very muscular and powerful shoulders and hindquarters and are exceptionally strong in relation to their weights. Their claws are constructed so that the harder a victim struggles the tighter they grip. The paws are well padded with the back paws smaller than the front. They have 4 toes with 3 distinct lobes present at the base of the pad. Generally, claw marks are not visible since their claws are retractable.
They are easily distinguished from other wild cat species in Nevada. Lions are much larger than Bobcats and have a long tail, which may measure one-third of their total length.