Canada Lynx, Lynx canadensis

Kingdom:  Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class:  Mammalia

Order:  Carnivora

Family:  Felidae

Genus:  Lynx

Species: canadensis

Status

Canada lynx are trapped for their fur and have declined in many areas due to habitat loss.  Canada lynx is a threatened species in the continuous United States according to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Reintroduction efforts were made in Colorado in 1999, with the first wild-born kittens confirmed in 2003.  International Union for the Conservation of Nature Status: Least Concern; population stable.

Description

Canada lynx have dense fur that is silvery brown and may have blackish markings.  They average 24 pounds in weight, 36 inches in length, and 18 inches in shoulder height.  Canada lynx have a furry ruff which resembles a double-pointed beard, a short tail with a black tip and long furry tufts on their ears.  Long legs with broad, furred feet aid Canada lynx in traveling through deep snow.  Canada lynx may live for up to 15 years in the wild or up to approximately 20 years in captivity.

Habitat and Range

Canada lynx range across Canada and into Alaska as well as some parts of the northern United States (such as Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Maine).  They inhabit forest and tundra regions.

Diet

Snowshoe hares are the primary food source for Canada lynx.  Although Canada lynx hunt for hares, rodents, birds, and sometimes larger animals such as deer, snowshoe hares compose over 70% of biomass consumed.  Canada lynx rely mainly on hearing and sight to locate prey.  Canada lynx population tends to follow the 10-year cycle of snowshoe hare numbers.  As hare populations decline, so do Canada lynx numbers after a two-year lag.  As hare populations decrease, fewer lynx reproduce and litter size decreases.

Reproduction

Female Canada lynx use maternal dens from birth of their young until young are weaned and able to forage for themselves.  Canada lynx breed in spring and deliver two to four cubs.  Survival of young depends heavily on availability of prey.

Behavior

Canada lynx are solitary and secretive animals, usually active at night, and require a large territory.

Wow!

  • The word lynx is derived from the Greek word meaning ‘to shine’ and is a reference to the cat’s bright eyes.
  • Lynx eyesight is so keen it can spot a mouse 250 feet away.
  • They climb well and are good swimmers.
  • A Canada lynx can travel over 5 miles in a day.
  • Sometimes a lynx will stay in one spot for hours, waiting to pounce on a hare or other animal that passes by.
  • The tip of a lynx’s tail is completely black, compared to a bobcat which has black on top and white on the bottom of the pit of its tail.