The lynx is a species of wild cat found mostly in the parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. It belongs to the Felidae family of the animal kingdom. There exist four species of lynx, namely the Eurasian Lynx, Canadian Lynx, Iberian Lynx, and the Bobcat.
Facts about Lynx Cats
Lynx cats are usually brownish-gray in color with a short tail and black hair on their ear tips. It is speculated that the hair on their ear tips assists them in hearing. They also sport a neck ruff which adds to their elegance. Though their size varies in accordance to species, they can weigh anywhere between 30 to 70 lb. These wild cats are pretty vocal and have the ability to produce numerous sounds, such as hissing, chattering, howling, mews, and purrs.
The physical characteristics of lynx vary according to species. As we go north from the Equator, some changes are noticed in their physical traits. For instance, the Canadian lynx―a species of lynx found in snow-clad regions of Canada and Alaska―has broad paws and light color, which help it sustain in this environment. While broad paws make it easier for this creature to walk on snow, light color acts as a natural camouflage in snow-clad surroundings.
They usually mate during early spring or winter. The reproduction cycle for this mammal is annual. On an average, the female lynx gives birth to 3 to 6 kittens a year. These kittens stay with the mother for a year and then pursue a solitary life of their own.
These wild cats are mostly found in mountainous regions or areas with thick forests. They often use arboreal or aquatic style of hunting. Unlike a cheetah, who uses the 'chase to exhaust' method for hunting, lynx prefer the 'stalk and ambush' technique. These carnivores mainly feast on animals like snowshoe hare, reindeer, roe deer, small red deer, chamois, sheep, goats, fish, etc. Primarily a solitary creature, lynx cats are seen hunting in groups at times, mainly comprising the female lynx and its young ones. This co-operative behavior is most often noticed when there is scarcity of food and they need to hunt down larger prey, like a reindeer.
Though they themselves are predators, lynx do face a threat from other animals in the food chain. Cougars and gray wolves have been found killing lynx to satiate their hunger. However, it's their young ones who are more vulnerable to potential dangers of the outside world, with owls, eagles, coyotes, foxes, and even male Bobcats waiting to pounce on them.
The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is the largest of the four species of lynx. It is mostly found in Northern Europe and Asia. On an average, it is 32 to 50 inches long and stands 28 inches tall. It is a nocturnal animal which stalks its prey at night. It mainly hunts hare, rabbit, rodents, wild boar, chamois, foxes, and reindeer.
The Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis) is the second largest of the lynx species. Mainly found in Canada and Alaska, it has also been spotted in some parts of the United States. Standing 24 inches tall at the shoulder, it measures 36 inches in length. Like the Eurasian lynx, the Canadian species is also nocturnal. It generally hunts down hare, rodents, birds, and deer.
The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) is a species of lynx mostly found in Spain. It gets its name from the Iberian peninsula in Southern Europe, where it was abundant at one point of time. Today, however, it has been listed as an endangered species. It is 24 to 28 inches tall, 34 to 43 inches long, and weighs 28 lb. The Iberian lynx eats rodents, insectivores, birds, reptiles, amphibians, European rabbits, etc.
The Bobcat (Lynx rufus) is the smallest species of lynx. Most often found in Canada, northeast Mexico, and the continental United States, this is the most adaptable species of lynx. It is 28 to 47 inches long, 14 to 15 inches tall, and weighs up to 30 lb. Unlike other species, the Bobcat is crepuscular animal, i.e., mostly active at twilight and dawn. It feasts on rabbit, hare, rodent, and deer. Its flexibility and adaptability has ensured that this animal is still found in large numbers in North America.
Due to their timid lifestyle, lynx cats don't come in direct contact with humans. The reports of a lynx attacking humans are rare, and if at all, it's only for self defense. On the other hand, humans are quite often found interfering in their life, killing these beautiful creatures mostly for their skin which has a high demand in the international market. Other than poaching, the existence of lynx is also threatened by loss of habitat or loss of prey. The Iberian lynx is already on the verge of extinction. If conservation measures are not initiated soon, other species will also start walking on the same road.