Trail Cam Captures 3-Legged Bobcat Surviving in the Wild

Trail Cam Captures 3-Legged Bobcat Surviving in the Wild

Abobcat with only three legs has been spotted trotting along a trail in Florida, raising speculation about how the animal lost the limb.

A picture of the amputee bobcat, which was missing its front left leg, was posted to the Facebook group Unseen Florida by wildlife enthusiast Bob Partlow, who owns multiple trail cams.

“First 3 legged bobcat I have ever seen,” he captioned the post, which was a screenshot from a video of the bobcat quickly passing through the trail cam area.

“He or she bolts through pretty quick, maybe 2 seconds,” he told Newsweek, and noted that he had never seen the animal before or since.

Bobcats, also known as red lynxes, are wildcats found throughout most of the contiguous U.S. These cats are fairly small, only growing up to around 50 inches from nose to tail and 1.5 to 2 feet tall at the shoulder, with reddish-brown fur with spots or stripes of brown and black. They are often mistaken for the three other “lynx” species—the Canadian lynx, Iberian lynx and Eurasian lynx—but are smaller in stature, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo explains.

These cats usually hunt and eat small mammals, including rabbits, hares and rats, as well as larger birds like poultry and swans.

In Florida, where this three-legged bobcat was spotted, these cats live throughout the deep forest, swamps, and hammock land, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Their individual territory can range to five or six square miles in rural zones, but this shrinks to around 1 or 2 square miles in more built-up areas.

Stock image of a bobcat on a log.ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS
Stock image of a bobcat on a log. ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

In the Facebook comments, others speculated as to the cause of the cat’s missing limb.

“Probably a trap. Glad to see it has healed and he is doing well,” one person commented on the Facebook post.

“Could have lost it to an alligator!” another said.

Bobcats were once hunted and trapped extensively for their fur, but have still retained a large population. They have few predators, but have been previously found to have been attacked by cougars and gray wolves, coyotes, and even American alligators.

Animals may also be occasionally born with only three limbs, due to genetic or congenital problems.

Animals that lose a limb are often surprisingly resilient, as animals that usually walk on four legs can evenly distribute their weight between the remaining three quite stably. It tends to be easier to adapt if a hind leg is lost rather than a front leg, like this bobcat.

“It’s easier on the animal if the leg [they lose] is one of the hind legs,” Rebecca McCloskey, a curator of carnivores and primates for Denver Zoo, told National Geographic. “There’s a lot of power in those back legs, and the one remaining leg can handle that force and additional weight pretty easily.”

Luckily, this three-legged bobcat doesn’t seem to be facing any issues with its life following the loss of its limb.

“Seems to be getting around pretty good,” Partlow replied to one of the comments.

This article by Jess Thomson was first published by Newsweek on 22 June 2023. Lead Image: Screenshot of the three-legged bobcat from Bob Partlow’s video. BOB PARTLOW.

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