|Eurasian Lynx - Lynx lynx
|( Linnaeus, 1758 )
Europe / Asia
Europe / Asia
U.S. ESA Status:
Est. World Population:
31 - 50 inches
3 - 6 inches
14 - 19 in
39 - 77 lbs
10 - 12 years in the Wild
11 - 15 years in Captivity
12 months (Females)
24 months (Males)
1 - 5
65 - 72 days
These medium-sized cats have stout bodies, long legs, large feet, and stubby tails. All of these characteristics allow them to move quickly over short distances. Their soft, thick fur is usually some shade of yellow or grayish brown. It is often marked with indistinct pale lines or spots. Their white whiskers frame their muzzle. Most have a kind of collar of long hair around their necks and under their chins. They are distinctivelyfor their prominent ear tufts--long, black hair on the tips of their ears. Eurasian lynx are also said to have a haughty stare.
Generally, males are larger and more powerful than females. Size differention probably originated from sexual competition in which only the large and powerful males survived to mate.
- Iran, Turkey
- Kashmir to Mongolia
- Central Siberia
- Russia, Far East, China
- Eastern Siberia
Eurasian lynx live in forested, mountainous regions far from dense human populations. When young, lynx spend time in trees. In winter, when many animals hibernate or migrate, these cats remain active. Their large, furry feet, serve as snowshoes. Their coat becomes paler and their fur thickens. Only during extremely bad weather do these lynx take shelter in caves, hollow logs, and trees.
Biomes: temperate forest & rainforest, mountains
Palearctic: Eurasian lynx are found throughout Europe and Siberia in forested habitats with sufficient ungulate populations.
Mating season--the only season that males and females associate--is in the early spring (January-March). Awaiting the arrival of her young, the female looks for shelter in caves, hollow logs, and trees. The kittens arrive roughly 70 days after mating. These tiny creatures -- usually one to five in number, weighing 12 ounces on average -- are born with their eyes closed, making them completely dependent on their mother for warmth, food, and protection. The female stays with her kittens constantly until driven to leave by hunger, and even then she is only away for very short periods of time. Males do not participate in parental care.
After two weeks, the kittens open their eyes and are able to keep themselves warm without the help of their mother. The female nurses her young for 3-4 months. At six weeks old, the kittens follow the mother on short trips. Kittens are active, curious, and skilled at climbing trees using their sharp claws. At one year old, the kittens leave their mother. Males travel longer distances than females, who generally stay close to their mother. At this time, females are able to have young of their own. Males, on the other hand, must wait another year before they can reproduce.
Food & Hunting:
Eurasian lynx are strictly carnivorous, feeding primarily on small mammals and ground-dwelling birds. Mammalian prey includes roe deer, chamois, hares, marmots, foxes, and squirrels. As is true of all cats, Eurasian lynx are skillful hunters and spend a large part of their time each day in the pursuit of prey.
Since they can only run fast for short distances, Eurasian lynx must surprise their prey. Keeping low to the ground, European lynx attack unsuspecting animals from close range. Once the animal is caught, lynx bite the neck, cutting the spinal cord. If the animal is too large, lynx merely hold the throat of the animal until it suffocates. Their razor-sharp teeth cut through the flesh efficiently. Portions of the prey that are not immediately consumed are cached and retrieved later.
Eurasian lynx are shy, secretive cats. Eurasian lynx may live to be 10-12 years old, though they typically live for much less. They are solitary animals. Females hunt with their young in order to teach them proper techniques. A male's home range usually overlaps several different females' home ranges. Lynx mark their boundaries by urinating on rocks, trees, and stumps. When the time comes to mate, these odors help the male to locate potential females. Courtship lasts a period of about two days. During this time, the male and female chase each other, they hunt together, they sniff and lick each other, and they lie side by side. When the female is ready to mate, she crouches down and raises her tail to alert the male. The male then restrains the female from the back to prevent her from attacking him. When they are finished, they separate quickly while hissing and snarling at each other. They usually mate many times before the male leaves to find another mate. Although females only have one mate each season, males usually have many.
In Eurasian lynx, hunting methods are learned by observation and practice. Rather than smelling their prey, lynx depend on their extraordinary sense of hearing along with sight. Eurasian lynx spend time grooming themselves in order to keep clean and scratch on surface in order to keep their claws sharp. They are most active in early morning and late afternoon. Winter brings both problems and advantages to Eurasian lynx populations. These cats can be easily seen against the snow in wintertime because of the lack of grass to hide behind. They resort to hiding behind rocks at this time of the year. Moving through the snow, on the otherhand, is easy for these cats because of their large, fur-covered feet that prevent them from sinking into the snow. When Eurasian lynx are discovered by a predator, they stand still and stare.
Eurasian lynx populations once flourished in many countires of Europe until they almost became extinct in the mid-1900's. Their numbers were drastically reduced as a result of hunting and trapping for their fur. Their habitats (forested areas) also were slowly being destroyed. In the 1970's, great concern lead to taking lynx from areas where they were abundant in Europe and releasing them in the forested mountains of Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. They adjusted well in this new area, except for the lack of their natural prey. Unfortunately, they turned to preying on flocks and herds of domestic animals. Reintroductions have been moderately successful.
Eurasian lynx have been hunted for their soft pelts. Currently hunting is prohibited or regulated throughout most of their range. Where their natural prey populations are low, Eurasian lynx sometimes prey on domestic animals. Hunters also complain that lynx kill deer.
Contrary to popular belief, Eurasian lynx don't climb trees to wait and pounce on their prey, but merely to escape danger. As humans, we tend to be frightened of the lynx, but they rarely attack humans. They may, however, follow humans through the woods, simply watching from a distance out of what we think to be curiosity.