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Location: Big Cats

Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis)



Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis)
Order: Carnivora, Family: Felidae

Lynx weigh between 10 and 40 pounds. They vary in color but are normally yellowish brown. The upper parts may have a frosted, gray look, and the underside may be more buff. Many individuals have dark spots. The lynx's tail is quite short and is often ringed and tipped with black. Fur on the body is long and thick, and is particularly long on the neck in winter. The lynx's triangular ears are tipped with tufts of long black hairs. Its paws are quite large and furry, helping to distribute its weight when moving on snow. The lynx is between 3 and 3 1/2 feet long, and its tail measures from 2 to 5 inches long.



I. DESCRIPTION:
  • Lynx weigh between 10 and 40 pounds.
  • They vary in color but are normally yellowish brown. The upper parts may have a frosted, gray look, and the underside may be more buff. Many individuals have dark spots.
  • The lynx's tail is quite short and is often ringed and tipped with black. Fur on the body is long and thick, and is particularly long on the neck in winter. The lynx's triangular ears are tipped with tufts of long black hairs.
  • Its paws are quite large and furry, helping to distribute its weight when moving on snow.
  • The lynx is between 3 and 3 1/2 feet long, and its tail measures from 2 to 5 inches long.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
  • Canadian lynx live primarily throughout Canada, in western Montana and nearby parts of Idaho and Washington. Small populations exist in New England and Utah and possibly in Oregon, Wyoming, Alaska and Colorado as well.
  • Typically lynx live in mature forests with dense undergrowth, but they also sometimes inhabit more open forests, rocky areas or tundra.
III. DIET:
  • Canadian lynx are carnivores. Particularly important in the lynx's diet is the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus). Both populations have been known to fluctuate in linked 10-year cycles.
  • Although lynx prey exclusively on the hares in certain areas (in Cape Breton, for example), in others they also hunt rodents, birds and fish.
  • In the fall and winter, lynx hunt deer and other large ugulates weakened by the rutting season. They also eat carcasses left by human hunters.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
  • Female lynx mate once a year, with estrus lasting one to two days, and raise one litter per year. Mating occurs primarily in February and March, and gestation lasts from eight to 10 weeks.
  • Females usually have two or three kittens per litter, though the number may vary from one to five. Kittens nurse for five months, although they eat some meat as early as 1 month old.
  • Males do not participate in parenting. Young lynx remain with their mothers until the following winter's mating season, and siblings sometimes stay together for a while after separating from the mother.
  • Females are sexually mature at 21 months, and males at 33 months.
  • While lynx appear to be territorial, females may have overlapping home ranges. Males may have home ranges that include the range of a single female and her young. Males and females have no contact with each other except during the winter breeding season.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
  • Lynx primarily hunt by sight, but also use their well-developed hearing. They mainly stalk prey at night.
  • Hunters and trappers have exploited Canadian lynx for their fur since the 17th century. As the large-cat fur trade grew more restrictive in the 1960s and '70s, and as trapping led to the subsequent reduction of ocelot and margay populations, trappers focused their attention on the pelts of Canadian lynx.
  • However, the lynx population is most affected by the size of the hare population, not trappers. Lynx help control snowshoe hare and other small-mammal populations that humans often consider pests.



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