Shine On, You Crazy Lynx

by
posted on December 24, 2015
lynx-fws.jpg

Did you know that the word "lynx" means "to shine" in Greek? That's how this North American wild cat got its name—from the way its eyes shine in the dark. The lynx resembles its cousin the bobcat, but it's larger with longer legs and broad paws, which this Northern animal uses almost like snowshoes to get around in deep snow. The lynx is largely found in the forests of Canada, but also lives in Montana, Idaho and Washington...sightings have even been reported in states such as New York and Maine. A lynx’s coat is soft and dense, with a silvery luster and blackish markings and a solid black-tipped tail. Its face is framed by “ruff” of fur, and it typically has tufted ears. They measure up to 41 inches from nose to stubby tail and weigh up to 24 pounds. 

The lynx is not a particularly fast runner, so it relies on stealth to stalk its prey. A lynx’s diet consists of rodents, red squirrels and other small mammals, but these cats show a strong preference for snowshoe hares. In fact, lynx have been known to move away from areas where the snowshoe hare population has decreased. Believe it or not, the relatively diminutive lynx is capable of hunting larger animals, such as deer, when hares become scarce.  

In the past, lynx numbers fell due to overtrapping, so trapping and hunting the lynx was banned in the 1980s. 

As with most cats, the lynx is nocturnal, meaning that it spends most of its waking time at night...which is one of the reasons it's so hard to spot. Additionally, the lynx is a relatively shy animal, so you will probably not spot one anytime soon!

FAST FACTS

  • An average lynx’s litter is between 1 to 5 kittens
  • A lynx can be very patient, waiting in one spot for hours to pounce on a small animal or snowshoe hare
  • The lynx competes for food with the bobcat       

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