Iipay Aa name: Nyemii
Common name: Bobcat
Scientific name: Lynx rufus
Do you have a cat? Do they weigh 20 pounds? Bobcats may look cute, but they are well-known predators of the chaparral. Bobcat, or Nyemii in ‘Iipay Aa, are a little under twice the size of an average house cat. They have fluffy brown fur and black stripes all over their body. They have small tufts on their long-pointed ears. An interesting fact about them is they are named after their “bobbed” tails, a tail that looks like it has been cut short. In the Kumeyaay Creation Story, when the Creator (‘Emaay Aha) died, the Nyemii was so sad that he cut his tail off in grief. This is a sign of mourning that is still practiced today in the cutting of hair when a loved one passes. The word “cry” is even part of Nyemii’s name.
Photo courtesy Paul & Cathy Becker.
Bobcat tails help them with balance when hunting for their prey. Common prey includes rodents, lizards, and snakes. All of these animals move very fast and a bobcat needs to be able to keep up with them. They run upwards of 30 miles per hour; that’s twice the speed of an average fourth grader! Not only do they need the speed to hunt, but also to survive. Common predators of bobcats are mountain lions, owls, and humans. While most predators hunt bobcats for food, humans hunt bobcats for their fur.