Profile by Phil Crosby
|Canada lynx photo supplied by George Markie|
The Lynx is a distinctive looking cat, which is readily identified by its short tail. There are four species, the Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx), the Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis),the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) and the Bobcat or Red Lynx (Lynx rufus). Of these the Eurasian was resident in Britain until historic times (and some believe it may never have become completely extinct), the Canadian is a cat which may have been released into the wild either accidentally or deliberately. The Iberian Lynx is perhaps the rarest big cat species in the world, numbering fewer than 500 in the wild, and as such is unlikely to be encountered in the UK.
Canadian lynx live for up to 15 years in the wild.
Body length: 65-100 cm, Tail length: 10-15 cm, Shoulder height: 50-75 cm, Weight: male: 10.7 kg, female: 8.9 kg.
Canada lynx are smaller than the European lynx with a shorter tail and longer hind legs. They have long black ear tufts. Canada lynx have thick cushions of hair on the soles of their large feet, which act like snowshoes. They are twice as effective as bobcats at supporting their weight on the snow.
Canada lynx are distributed throughout North America and Canada.
They inhabit forest and tundra regions.
Canada lynx feed almost exclusively on snowshoe hares and have adapted to the cyclic availability of their prey. Snowshoe hare numbers peak every 10 years. As they then start to decline, so do lynx numbers after a two year lag. As the hare population decreases, fewer lynx reproduce and litter size decreases. When snowshoe hares are scarce, Canada lynx will also feed on small to medium-sized mammals and birds. They hunt by stalking or ambushing prey.
Canada lynx construct a rough bed under a fallen tree or rock ledge for shelter. They climb well and are good swimmers.
Lynx are shy and solitary, except for mothers with cubs. They mark their territories by urinating on trees and rocks. Male territories are larger and can overlap several female territories. Same sex range overlaps also occur and are thought to be those of independent cubs overlapping with their mothers. Females usually have one mate per season, but males may have more than one.
Lynx are active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular). They stay active in winter and their fur becomes thicker and paler. In extreme weather, they take shelter in caves or trees.
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