Lynx cats have been known in history for their sharp vision. That’s why these cats are titled Lynx, which means bright. It’s a reference to their white reflective eyes. But all cats have glowing eyes, right? So how do we distinguish the lynx cats from others?
It’s not the bright eyes they have but their ears that set them apart. Lynx cats have characteristic tufts of black hair on their ears. Though the reason behind their presence is unknown, all species of lynx cats have these tufts.
Want to hear more about this wild cat? Then take a deep breath and dive with us to explore lynxes. I’d love to answer your queries and bust a few myths along the journey. I’ll also inform you about everything related to lynx cats. So let’s get into it.
What Is a Lynx Cat?
A cat that belongs to the four species of the Genus Lynx is a Lynx cat (Felis Lynx). They are medium-sized wild cats having long dancing hind legs and short stubby tails.
The Lynx cat had a legendary status in the myths of Greek and North America. They believed these cats could see what others couldn’t see.
No one believes in such a thing now, but there is one thing for sure, Lynx cats have keen vision, especially at night, due to mirror-like cells called the Tapetum Lucidum. They are known to spot even a small game 250 feet away.
So how will you recognize a Lynx if you ever come across a bunch of wild cats? Well, the appearance of Lynx cats depends a lot on the climate of the area where they’re found.
But some features all Lynx cats share are the short tail length, broad paws and head, distinctive black tufts on ears, and hairy soles. Lynxes also have long whiskers under the chin, which are simply like white beards.
Besides, their fur comes in a variety of colors from medium to golden brown to as light as beige-white. And their fur is so dense that you can poke a finger through it. The fur is often marked by dark brown spots and white fur underside the body.
Though Caracal is called the Desert Lynx, it doesn’t belong to the Lynx family. It also has tufted ears which get many people confused. But there are only four Lynx species. Let’s take a look at each one of them.
The Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) is the largest in size among the Lynx genus. Being the largest, they also hunt the largest. The Eurasian Lynx can even hunt deer and elk, which other Lynx cats can’t.
They also have the longest lifespan of 17 years in the wild. So without a doubt, they are the strongest and most resilient survivors among the Lynx species.
And that’s not all. When it comes to diversification in habitats, they are the ones who top the list. The Eurasian Lynx roams the lands of Europe, Northern Asia, and the U.S.
The Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis) has a relationship like Tom and Jerry with the snowshoe hare. Though they mostly get successful in catching the hare and don’t just joke around like Tom.
Yet they have one thing in common; the Canada Lynx can’t survive without snowshoe hares. If the rabbit population declines, so does the Canadian Lynx population.
The unique features of the Canada Lynx are black tail tips and huge paws. As they live in extremely cold weather, they have thick fur to stay warm and snowshoes for walking in deep snow.
Both males and females of Canadian Lynx have the same weight and size. They weigh almost 8-14 kg, have a height of 48-56 cm, and a body length of 90 cm.
The Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) is the most rare cat in the world. They once became less than 100 in number, but steps were taken to conserve them, and now they are in thousands. Still, they are restricted only to Spain and Portugal and are on the red list of IUCN.
Iberian Lynx weighs about 10-15 kg and has a shoulder height of 45-70 cm. And they can grow up to 80-130 cm in length.
Bobcat (Lynx rufus) is similar in appearance to the Canadian Lynx but smaller in size. Furthermore, they don’t have furry soles and thick hair as they can’t adapt to extreme cold. However, they can survive in deserts, swamps, and forests with places to hide.
Bobcats are slightly different from other Lynx cats and seem more like large domestic cats. They only weigh about 9-12 kg and have a length of about 65-70 cm. Bobcats have a standing height of fewer than 2 feet.
Lynx Cat Diet
The Lynxes are strict carnivores and opportunistic predators. Thanks to their keen vision and hearing sense, they’re skilled hunters and can even spot a mouse 250 feet away.
And that’s not all. When they can’t find prey on land, they climb trees or swim to fulfill their diet need by catching fish and birds. Overall, they feed on a wide variety of animals, from smaller rabbits and squirrels to larger deers, chamois, etc.
But the different species of Lynx have different diets and tastes. For example, the primary target of the Iberian Lynx is the European rabbit, while for the Canada Lynx, it’s the snowshoe hare.
Bobcats are more catholic in their diet and feed upon hares, rodents, and rabbits. Being the largest one, the Eurasian Lynx can even hunt elk, deer, and roe deer.
Lynx cats are solitary and shy creatures but often team up to hunt. Unlike other cats, a Lynx does not keep up the chase of its prey. Rather, they prefer stalking silently and waiting for the perfect time to grasp the prey. When caught, they end the prey with a bite to the throat.
An interesting fact about this animal is it’s rarely seen. Being nocturnal, they hunt only at night, especially in areas near the human population. So one can say that they find ways to avoid human interaction and are also very good at it. How introverted of them!
These cats fiercely defend themselves from other predators and may also attack a human if they feel threatened or trapped.
And leave apart the males; even the female Lynxes don’t make their lairs. Rather they simply live in rock crevices, dense vegetation, or caves burrowed into ledges. And unlike several cases of separation anxiety in cats, lynx cats don’t have any such issues.
Though I have yet to master their language and can’t understand what they say, they talk a lot. Lynx cats are very vocal and produce yowling, chattering, and hissing sounds. On top of that, they can also meow and purr like domestic cats.
Distribution and Habitat
Lynx cats mostly inhabit dense woodlands or high-altitude forests as it’s ideal for hunting. These habitats provide tall trees, dense shrubs, and grass for lynx cats to take cover and ambush their prey. Additionally, they are also found in cold wilderness areas and mountain ranges.
And which territories are occupied by Lynx cats? Well, different species of the Genus Lynx are found in different parts of the world. For example, the Canada Lynx lives in Canada, Alaska, and a few states of the U.S. Meanwhile, the Iberians exist only in Spain and Portugal.
The Eurasian Lynx has the broadest range, expanding across Europe to India and Northern Pakistan. And the Bobcat is found in Southern Canada and the continental United States.
Lynx cats are solitary animals and only come together when they have to mate. However, small groups of Lynxes may sometimes hunt or travel together.
The mating season is usually around late winter or early spring, between January to April. To attract mates, females produce meow sounds while males make deep growls. When mated, the mother Lynx gives birth to one to four kittens after a gestation period of about two months,
The babies are raised by their mothers alone after birth. They build homes for their kittens in secretive places like a cave or dens. The mother Lynx also feeds the kittens on its own without any assistance from its male counterpart.
When born, the baby Lynx weighs about 8.5-15 ounces and is covered in greyish-brown fur. They open their eyes after 10 days and are fully weaned when they are about 5 months old.
Young lynxes can survive at 10 months but stay with their mothers for an entire year. After that, they partner with their siblings for some time and become fully mature at two years of age.
Like all the other traits, the lifespan of Lynx cats is different for every specie. For example, the Bobcat lives for almost 7 years, while the Iberian or Spanish Lynx survives on Earth for almost 13 years.
However, the average lifespan of all Lynx cat species is around 12- 20 years. And the maximum a Lynx ever lived was 27 years; it was the Canadian Lynx. The reason for their deaths are many, but the most common is the shortage of food or habitat loss.
That’s why, when kept in captivity, their lifespan increases. For example, the lifespan of a Eurasian Lynx is 17 years in the wild and 24 years in captivity.
Lynx Populations and Threats
Except for the Spanish Lynx, the other species of Lynx cats have a conservation status of least concern in the IUCN red list. The Spanish Lynx population of only a few hundred makes it the most threatened species. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the Canadian Lynx an endangered species, too.
The possible threats to the population of Lynx are loss of shelter and habitat, poaching, fallen trees, and diseases affecting their prey population. Humans hunt Lynx cats for their beautiful warm fur. But we have to realize that furry coats look better on cats.
The good news is conservation efforts are being taken to reverse the declining population of Lynx cats. And these efforts have also proved to be fruitful in the past.
Lynx is a medium-sized wildcat belonging to the Felidae family that’s mostly found in the woodlands. Lynx hunts animals smaller than its size. Though they avoid fighting, they won’t step back once they get involved.
If you’re considering keeping a Lynx cat as a pet, I don’t have good news for you. Because they lack many traits a pet should have. Although they can be tamed, that would require a lot of effort as they belong to the wild.
That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed reading the article.