You are here:

Wild Animals/Large Black Nocturnal Cat


I live in Berkeley county Wv and for the last two weeks we have been finding rabbit fur and bird feathers all over our yard. Two weeks ago while sitting on our front porch a very large black animal that looked similar to a cat laid curled up under one of our trees it was about 35 to 40 pounds. Then yesterday we saw it in the neighbors back yard eating something and when we startled it the animal jumped a six foot fence as though it were nothing. It is black with a mid size length tail and a rather large head with broad shoulders. We are only seeing it either right after the sun goes down or at night. we are afraid to allow our dog or children to go out at night. What could this be as we live in a rural area but we are not in the mountains.

Dear Joyce,

The only thing I can think of that even remotely fits that description would be a melanistic bobcat.  Bobcats do make incursions into suburban areas if there are woods anywhere nearby, so this is not impossible.

Here are some pictures of melanistic (i.e., mutant form with all black fur) bobcats you can look at to compare it to the animal you are seeing:

A bobcat will not attack an adult human, but pets and small children should not be out where the cat could encounter them.  I hope everyone stays safe.


Wild Animals

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I'm an evolutionary biologist with a passion for animals. Ask about natural history, behavior, ecology, evolution. PLEASE NOTE:

If you have found an "orphaned" or injured wild animal or bird:
Please don't waste time asking questions on the internet, as the answers may come too late. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL, and DO NOT HANDLE IT unless it is in imminent danger. (Many wild "orphans" are not orphans at all!) If you are absolutely sure it is orphaned, keep it warm and quiet, and find a LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR HERE. Don't try to raise a baby yourself, or rehabilitate an injured anmal. Many a well-intentioned rescuer will do more harm than good, especially with baby birds and baby rabbits.

Without geographic location, time of day and habitat, I can't help. A clear picture is always best.

It's impossible for me to I.D. an animal call without hearing it myself.

I'm not an expert on comparative strengths of different animals (more complicated than you might think!) nor bite forces.

I refuse to answer "Which of these two animals--X or X--would win in a fight?".

These hypothetical matchups range from impossible (Grizzly Bears and Gorillas don't even occupy the same continent.) to ridiculous (Someone asked me "Who would win a fight between a Great White Shark and a tiger?").

The vast majority of animals--even the fierce and powerful--are not as warlike as Homo sapiens, and it's childish to project our aggressiveness onto them.


I have been the fortunate caregiver to a group of Black-tailed Jackrabbits rescued from the Miami International Airport, and not releasable in this area because they are not native. I also have rehabbed and released Eastern Cottontails, and am in contact with many very experienced wildlife rescuers who regularly handle injured or orphaned rabbits and hares.

House Rabbit Society

Exotic DVM journal

I have a Ph.D. in Biology, with main areas of expertise in evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, and ecology.

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]