ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Security footage captured a possible bobcat roaming the backyard of a Round Rock subdivision this weekend. The creature slipped through a missing fence post and circled 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, not a mountain lion. So what is the difference between the two?
Mountain lions are traditionally found in the Trans-Pecos region of far West Texas, along with the scrublands of South Texas and parts of the Hill Country. Mountain lions tend to live in remote mountains, canyons or other hilly areas, according to TPWD.
For comparison, features usually live in outcrops or rocky canyons; however, they have been able to adapt in dens and thickets as more people move into their traditional habitats.
Mountain lions are much larger than bobcats, weighing between 90-150 pounds and three to four feet long, including their tails. They typically have dense fur that ranges from light brown and gray shades to almost black in color, according to TPWD.
Bobcats weigh between 15-35 pounds on average and are about 25-30 inches long with their tails. They are known for having mottled fur ranging in color from reddish brown to gray with black markings.
If one encounters a mountain lion, TPWD recommends remaining calm and slowly backing away while maintaining eye contact with the animal. It is not recommended to turn away from the mountain lion or run away.
For aggressive mountain lions, TPWD recommends throwing rocks or sticks while talking “hard and loud.” TPWD encourages fighting back if someone attacks you and not playing dead.
If there are small children around, TPWD suggests picking them up to prevent them from running away or triggering a reaction from the animal.
TPWD officials said that with bobcats, their shy 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 the animal away and not leaving pet food or water outside that might entice them.
A fence that is at least six feet tall and 6-12 inches below ground level is also recommended to keep them out of your yard. Experts advise against leaving small pets alone while outdoors, as well as chickens or birds raised at night.