Canadian Lynx - Lynx canadensis
( Kerr, 1792 )



Canadian Lynx Photo
Canadian Lynx Location Map
North America
Canadian Lynx Photo Canadian Lynx Location Map North America

Subspecies: 2
Est. World Population: Unknown


Body Length: 35 - 43 inches
Tail Length: 2 - 5 inches
Shoulder Height: 12 - 17 inches
Weight: 15 - 40 lbs

Top Speed: Unknown
Jumping Ability: Unknown (Horizontal)

Life Span: 13 - 15 years in the Wild
Life Span: 14 - 17 years in Captivity

Sexual Maturity: 21 months (Females)
Sexual Maturity: 33 months (Males)
Litter Size: 2 - 4
Gestation Period: 56 - 68 days

The coloration of lynx varies but is 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 tail is quite short and is often ringed and tipped with black. The fur on the body is long and thick. The hair is particularly long on the neck in winter. The triangular ears are tipped with tufts of long black hairs. The paws are quite large and furry, helping to distribute the weight of the animal when moving on snow. Head-body length is between 35 and 43 inches and tail length ranges from 2 to 5 inches.

- Canada, Northern United States
- Newfoundland

Lynx usually live in mature forests with dense undergrowth but can also be found in more open forests, rocky areas or tundra.

Biomes: tundra, temperate forest & rainforest

Nearctic: Major populations of Canadian lynx are found throughout Canada, in western Montana and nearby parts of Idaho and Washington. There are small populations in New England and Utah and possibly in Oregon, Wyoming and Colorado as well.

Life Cycle:
Females enter estrus only once a year and raise one litter per year. Estrus lasts 1-2 days. Mating mostly occurs in February and March and the gestation period is from eight to ten weeks long. Litters typically have two or three kittens, though the number may range from one to five. Birth weight is about 8 oz. Lactation lasts for five months, although some meat is eaten as early as one month. The male does not participate in parental care. Young remain with the mother until the following winter's mating season and siblings may remain together for a while after separation from the mother. Females reach sexual maturity at 21 months and males at 33 months.

Food & Hunting:
Canadian lynx are strictly carnivores. The snowshoe hare _@Lepus americanus@_ is of particular importance in the diet, and populations of the two are known to fluctuate in linked cycles with periods of about 9.6 years and a slight lag between hare and lynx populations. Although in some areas, such as Cape Breton Island, lynx prey exclusively on the hares, in other areas they also take rodents, birds and fish. In the fall and winter lynx will kill and eat deer and other large ugulates that are weakened by the rutting season and will also utilize carcasses left by human hunters.

Lynx seem to be territorial, but home ranges of females may overlap. Male home ranges may include the range of a single female and her young. Ranges vary in size from 7 to 185 square miles. Adults typically avoid each other except during the winter breeding season. Lynx are primarily visual predators but also have well-developed hearing. They hunt mainly at night. Prey are normally stalked to within a few short bounds and then pounced on, although some animals will wait in ambush for hours. Females and young sometimes hunt for hares cooperatively by spreading out in a line and moving through relatively open areas. Prey scared up by one animal is often caught by others in the line. This method of hunting can be quite successful and may be important in the education of the young in hunting technique. Activity is almost entirely nocturnal. Lynx den in rough nests under rock ledges, fallen trees or shrubs.

Similar Species:
Lynx lynx - Eurasian Lynx
Lynx rufus - Bobcat
Lynx pardinus - Spanish Lynx

Other Details:
Hare population size affects lynx populations by increased mortality among kittens and reduced pregnancy rate among females during low years in hare numbers. Indeed, the only direct affect on adults seems to be hunger and not increased mortality. Litters are larger and kittens healthier in years of large hare populations. Canadian lynx have been exploited for furs since the seventeenth century. With restrictions on trade in furs of large cats in the 1960's and '70's, and subsequent reduction of ocelot and margay populations by fur trappers, increased attention has been focused on the pelts of Canadian lynx. However, it seems that the greatest pressure on populations of lynx remains the size of hare populations, not trappers. Lynx help control populations of small mammals, such as snowshoe hares and voles, that are agricultural or silvicultural pests.

Nowak, Ronald. Walker's Mammals Of The World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999
Kitchener, Andrew. The Natural History of the Wild Cats. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1991

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Database Last Updated: 31 Dec 1969

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