Obligatory, Snowy Christmas Post: Lynx

A lynx looking up.

I woke up today and found out that it was Christmas. This was a considerable letdown (I’m joking), because it meant that I was obliged to write a holiday-themed post full of snowy felines.

Rather than give you pictures of warm-climate cats in the snow, however, I decided to focus on a species that lives in some of the coldest regions of our planet: the lynx.

There were two problems with this strategy, though. First, I didn’t start working on this post until this morning. Second, I don’t know anything about lynx. That means I had to turn to my trusty book, Wild Cats of the World by Dr. Luke Hunter (2015). Nearly all of the information below comes from that book.

The first thing to know about lynx is that there are two species of them. Well, technically there are three, but since the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) doesn’t live in frozen climates, we’re going to ignore it.

Eurasian lynx

Two lynx in the distance
Two Eurasian lynx. Lynx lynx (Lūšis, Eurasian lynx) by Armandas Naudžius. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The largest species of lynx is the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx). It lives in Eurasia, which means Europe and Asia. Dr. Hunter (2015) writes that female Eurasian lynx weigh between 13-21kg (roughly 29-46lbs), whereas the males range from 11.7-29kg (~26-64lbs) (p. 127).

Eurasian lynx are cool because they regularly hunt ungulate species (hoofed creatures), which often weigh much more than them. There’s a picture in Dr. Hunter’s (2015) book of a female Eurasian lynx eating a roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) that she killed, which was approximately double her own weight (p. 130).

Wild Cats of the World (2015) also states that Eurasian lynx sometimes hunt red deer, which are even larger than roe deer.

Canada lynx

A Canada lynx in the snow
A Canada lynx. Not a Pussy Cat by Kieth Williams. CC BY 2.0

If Eurasian lynx are from Eurasia, guess where Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) are from? You guessed it: Italy!

Actually, the above statement is false. Canada lynx primarily live in Canada and Alaska. They used to inhabit nearly half of the U.S. states, but like many species they were largely driven out of the continental U.S. Canada lynx now occupy pockets of territory in the “lower 48,” mostly in northern states or in mountainous regions.

Both Canada and Eurasian lynx have long legs and wide paws that help them walk in snow-covered forests. Canada lynx are smaller than their Eurasian relatives, though, and they primarily eat snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus).

A snowshoe hare in the snow
A snowshoe hare, which is the primary prey of the Canada lynx. The Easter Bunny? by JLS Photography – Alaska. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In fact, Canada lynx are so reliant on snowshoe hares that their populations closely mirror that of their prey. When hare populations boom, lynx numbers usually rise shortly thereafter. But when hare populations drop, so too do those of Canada lynx. I guess that’s the downside of being specialized.

In case anyone’s wondering, female Canada lynx typically clock in at between 5-11.8kg (~11-26lbs), and males at 6.3-17.3kg (~14-38lbs) (Hunter, 2015, p. 146). As you can see, that’s considerably less than Eurasian lynx, so you don’t have to worry about Canada lynx beating you up for your lunch money.

Closing Time

Well folks, it’s been real. I might write about each lynx species in more detail in the future, once I’ve learned more about them. They’re fascinating cats, and I feel like they don’t receive as much attention as they deserve.

However, now I have to go make excuses as to why I didn’t buy anyone presents this year.

References

Hunter, L. (2015). Wild cats of the world. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

4 Thoughts

    1. Thanks Leah! I’d wondered if bobcats were technically considered lynx, given their scientific name. The similarities and differences between bobcats and “true” lynx would be a fun topic to explore.

      Liked by 1 person

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