Lynx

Category: Wildlife

So, is that a lynx or a bobcat? That can be a hard question to answer, depending on where you spot the cat. They are actually very closely related and share the same genus. If you see it north of the Canadian border, it's probably a Canadian lynx; south and it's probably a bobcat, the most common wild cat in North America. Along the border, however, it could be either cat. A lynx's ears have a much longer tuft and their feet are larger. Their tails, both bobbed, are also different. A lynx's tail has a solid black end while the bobcat has a tail that is striped with white on the bottom. If you are in Europe or Asia, it's a lynx.

Lynx

Lynx

Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Mammalia

Order - Carnivora

Suborder - Feliformia

Family - Felidae

Subfamily - Felinae

Genus – Lynx

Species – Lynx lynx (Eurasian Lynx); Lynx canadensis (Canada Lynx); Lynx pardinus (Iberian or Spanish Lynx), Lynx rufus (Bobcat)

Common Names – Lynx

Characteristics

Depending on the species, lynx can be found in many forested northern regions, including Canada, Alaska, Northern Europe, and Siberia. The Iberian lynx is found in Spain. Their population is dependent on snowshoe hares and their numbers dwindle or grow depending on the number of hares. They have wide paws that help them walk and run on snow, allowing them to run down their prey.

Breeding

The usually solitary animals come together in March and April to breed and then they go their separate ways with the male having no further contact with the kittens. Gestation lasts 8-9 weeks and then anywhere from 1-5 kittens are born. The kittens will stay with their mother for a year while they learn to hunt and survive. The size of litters will vary with the availability of the lynx's favorite prey, the showshoe hare.

Behavior

Like most cats, with the notable exception of African lions, lynx will spend most of their lives alone although they will occasionally tolerate another's presence and even hunt with them. They eat showshoe hares almost exclusively but they will feed on other small mammals, birds, and even fish. They cannot maintain a population without the hares, however.

History

The Issoire lynx existed during the Pliocene period in Africa. It is considered to be the ancestor of modern lynxes and bobcats.

Present Status

Both the Canadian and Eurasian lynx are considered to have stable populations, but both have lost large areas of their former ranges. The Canadian lynx is considered a threatened species in the continental United States, excluding Hawaii where they have never existed and Alaska, where their populations are much stronger. The Iberian lynx is listed as endangered, upgraded from critically endangered but it remains the most endangered cat in the world.

References

  1. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)

  2. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

  3. World Wildlife Fund

  4. Ecology & the Conservation of the Lynx in the United States by Keith B. Aubry and Gary M. Koehler

  5. Forest Cats of North America by Jerry Kobalenko