HARVARD -- Amy Stoller of Littleton Road ran and grabbed her camera last week. She was able to take a couple of snaps before the creature spotted in her yard skittered away.
"I guess it's good I didn't go out into the yard for a better picture," said Stoller.
The animal appears to be a bobcat. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife estimates the population to be 1,200 to 1,300 strong. Twice the size of a typical domestic housecat, the bobcats (Lynx rufus) is the only wildcat remaining in Massachusetts.
"It actually sat in the lawn for about five to 10 minutes, just looking around," said Stoller. "It didn't run away until I opened the door to our back porch to try to get closer. It was really a beautiful animal."
"I wasn't sure what it was because I didn't think there were any wild cats in the area," said Stoller. "I would love to see it again, although I have to admit to being a little nervous about the proximity to the kids' play area."
A tell-tale sign? The animal's "bobbed" tail. The bobcat has a prominent tuft of facial fur and a coat of short dense yellow-to-red fur. There are also distinct or faint black spots along its flanks and white under parts sprinkled with black spots.
Full grown bobcats weigh between 15 and 35 pounds and measure 28 to 47 inches in overall length. Bobcats typically prey upon rabbits, mice, squirrels, skunk, opossum, muskrat, birds, snakes, and other available items.
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Shy and solitary, the bobcat is silent unless confronted by an enemy, when it will scowl, snarl and spit. Bobcats also let out an occasional scream.