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Archive for January 16, 2015

Bobcats Scent Marking

bobcat marking 202Like most cats, the bobcat is territorial and largely solitary. There is some overlap of males’ home ranges and they use several methods to mark territorial boundaries and to communicate with other bobcats. The signs of these methods include claw marks on trees, scrapes (mounds of soil and leaves scraped with the bobcat’s hind feet and formed into a pile that is marked with urine or scat), deposits of urine or feces and secretions from both mouth and anal glands.

Scat is frequently found in the same location, usually in conspicuous areas along travel routes, or near a den. (One monitored marking site contained 254 bobcat scats.) Resident bobcats also scent-mark with urine (one to five or more scent marks per mile) , squirting small amounts on rocks, bushes and snow banks as they travel. These scent markings function as biological bulletin boards within and between home ranges. In addition to marking territory, the scent markings are a means by which female bobcats claim a den, transient bobcats avoid resident bobcats, and bobcats find a mate.

When a bobcat encounters the scent mark of another bobcat, it raises its head with its mouth half open, nostrils closed and upper lip slightly curled back. This behavior is called the flehmen response. The bobcat inhales the scent into its mouth, where its vomeronasal organ detects molecules of the marker’s pheromones, which helps identify the marker and indicates, if it’s a female in estrus, whether or not she is ready to mate.

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