ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Security footage captured a possible bobcat roaming in the backyard of a Round Rock subdivision this weekend. The critter snuck through a missing fence picket and roamed around before disappearing from the camera’s view.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials reviewed the footage and said the animal was likely a bobcat, as opposed to a mountain lion. So, what’s the difference between the two?
Mountain lions are traditionally found within the Trans-Pecos region of far West Texas, along with the South Texas brushlands and parts of the Hill Country. Mountain lions tend to reside in remote mountains, canyonlands or other hilly areas, according to TPWD.
By comparison, bobcats are usually living in outcrops or rocky canyon regions; however, they’ve been able to adapt into dens and thickets as more people move into their traditional habitat areas.
Mountain lions are much larger than bobcats, weighing between 90-150 pounds and are three to four feet long, including their tails. They usually have solid coats that range from light brown and gray tints to a nearly black color, per TPWD.
Bobcats average between 15-35 pounds and are about 25-30 inches long with their tails. They’re known for having a spotted coat, ranging in color from a reddish brown to gray with black spots.
If someone encounters a mountain lion, the TPWD recommends staying calm and slowly backing away while keeping eye contact with the animal. It isn’t recommended to turn away from the mountain lion or to run.
For aggressive mountain lions, the TPWD recommends throwing rocks or sticks while speaking “firmly and loudly.” TPWD encourages fighting back if one attacks you and to not play dead.
If small children are around, TPWD suggests picking them up to prevent them from running or triggering a response from the animal.
With bobcats, TPWD officials said their shyer nature and nocturnal behavior make them much more difficult to spot. Some Texas experts have recommended using an air horn or some other noise to scare off the animal and to not leave any pet food or water outside that might entice them.
Fencing that’s at least six feet high and 6-12 inches below ground level is also recommended to keep them outside your yard. Experts advise you don’t leave any small pets alone while outdoors and any chicken or fowl put up at night.