Stroll your typical American city, and it's pretty much a given to see some fat, sassy squirrels skittering around like they own the place. But the well-stocked urban demographic of these arboreal acrobats isn't free of the whole predation deal – not by a long shot.

And it's not just red-tailed hawks, great horned owls and free-roaming housecats hunting the bushy-tailed ones, as recent video out of one of the biggest metropolises in the US shows.

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Via Nicole Ortez/NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

A family managed to film this bobcat – not your average neighbourhood kitty – carrying a flailing squirrel across a residential street in Dallas, Texas, then ducking underground with its quarry. Michael Ortez put the scene vividly to NBC: "You could hear the squirrel barking as it was being hauled off into the storm drain." 

This particular squirrel-slaying bobcat is one of two that residents have seen regularly in the vicinity, as NBC reports [video has non-skippable ad]:

Double the size of a typical housecat, tuft-eared and bob-tailed, and decorated with bars and spots that at their most ornate call to mind an ocelot or serval, the bobcat might seem an exotic presence in the middle of a big city. But these adaptable, widespread members of the lynx tribe – found from southern Canada to central Mexico, and common across most of the contiguous US – can prosper in urban-suburban jungles (rather like that canine counterpart and competitor of theirs, the coyote). 

A study from a few years back (nicely profiled in this Texas Parks and Wildlife film) tracked bobcats across the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area and found them deftly navigating busy roadways and heavily populated areas. The odd daytime squirrel takedown aside, these street-smart wildcats mostly do their thing under the noses of human beings, prowling after-hours and in the cityscape's pocket wildernesses: tangled greenway streamcourses, golf-course hedgerows, overgrown lots and the like.

(Honestly, when you consider the pumas of Los Angeles and the leopards of Mumbai, a Dallas bobcat isn't so surprising.) 

Pavement-prowling bobcats find rich pickings among the abundant menagerie of small critters sharing this built-up realm: besides squirrels, prey such as rats, mice, cottontail rabbits, songbirds and snakes. 

One of the researchers in that Dallas-Ft. Worth bobcat study, Julie Golla, got her own squirrel hunt on film: one of the GPS-collared bobcats being monitored displayed some trademark feline agility in plucking a squirrel out of a tree on the grounds of an apartment complex in broad daylight.

Wild-looking as they are (and spitfire-feisty as they can be when feeling threatened), bobcats are normally no threat to people and only rarely tangle with domestic dogs or cats. City-dwellers should give neighbourhood bobcats their space and avoid feeding them – and, otherwise, simply appreciate their presence. For one thing, urban bobcats inject a shot of feral energy to the scene, and they also provide as expert rodent-control services as you could ask for: out there keeping those beady-eyed, whiskery types in line.

Nicole Ortez, who filmed the Dallas bobcat with its squirrel prize, accepts such primal four-legged neighbours. As she told NBC, "Animals are animals, and they're going to be where they are. I don't think it's that big of a deal."



Top header image: Eugene Beckes/Flickr