As similar as they might seem to the untrained eye, there are quite a few distinguishing features to help you identify a bobcat from a Canadian lynx. This AnimalSake post brings you a list of telling differences between these two wild felines.
So that’s how the confusion took root…
Both, the bobcat and the Canadian lynx possibly share a common ancestor―the Eurasian lynx. Though both species have developed separately, and are thousands of years apart, they do share some similarities in physical features and behavior.
The Canadian lynx and the bobcat have several similarities, not only in terms of physical features, but behavioral as well. For instance, both these wild cats are shy and reclusive, and never seek attention. Both also happen to be mostly nocturnal, which is why sightings by humans are relatively rare. Being masters of stealth, these animals are hard to find in the wilderness, and with their habitat overlapping to a certain extent, it only adds to the confusion.
Therefore, we are listing out some rather discernible differences to help you correctly identify the Canadian lynx or the bobcat, in the rare event that you encounter either one.
Canadian Lynx vs. Bobcat
The Canadian lynx looks bigger than the bobcat.
The Canadian lynx measures between 19 – 22 inches at the shoulder, with an average weight between 11 and 40 lb. The lynx’s hind legs are noticeably longer than the front ones, resulting in the hips being higher than the shoulders. Even the paws are bigger, with a thicker covering of fur to ease movement in the snow.
The bobcat is smaller, measuring 12 – 22 inches at the shoulder, weighing between 9 and 37 lb. The bobcat’s hind legs measure almost the same as his front ones, giving him a streamlined appearance. The paws tend to be smaller in size.
Different coats, different ears, different tails.
The Canadian lynx has a muted, dusty-beige fur, with the slightest hint of dark spotting. The ears are probably the best point of difference―the lynx has ample tufts of hair growing on top of his large ears. The face is lined with a thick mane. His tail is shorter as well, with a dark tip.
The bobcat’s coat features rather prominent spots, resembling the ones seen on a leopard. The ears are smaller in comparison, with a shorter tuft as well. The bobcat’s tail is longer, with black bands around it, along with the dark tip. However, the tail has white coloring on the underside.
Even their kittens are easy to tell apart.
Canada lynx kittens have grayish-brown fur, and are raised solely by the mother until they attain the age of 10 months. The breeding season lasts for a month, usually between March and May each year. Two to four cubs comprise a single litter; the number tends to increase with higher availability of prey.
Bobcat kittens are darker in color, with the spots beginning to be visible prominently. Their mating season falls between February and March, followed by a possible season between June and July as well.
Now, view their differences up close.
The Canadian Lynx: Lighter coat, larger in appearance
The Bobcat: Spotted coat, smaller in size
Their ranges overlap, but only slightly.
The Canada lynx is mainly found all across Canada and Alaska, along with a handful of states in the northern U.S., including Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, extending sparingly into New England, and southward into Utah.
The bobcat’s range extends from southern Canada, covering the entire region of mainland United States. Its small and delicate paws make it unfit to reside in areas with heavy snowfall, which may explain its absence further north into Canada.
Their food habits differ as well.
The Canadian lynx’s favorite grub is the snowshoe hare, which comprises 60% to 97% of its diet. They hunt rodents and birds when hares are hard to find, usually during the summer season.
The bobcats’ first preference also remains the rabbit, both the snowshoe and the eastern cottontail. However, bobcats are extremely opportunistic as compared to the Canadian lynx, and are willing to hunt rodents, squirrels, birds, fish, and insects as well. They are considered to be a major threat to the endangered whooping crane.