Four species belong to the genus Lynx and the family Felidae. This article provides an overview of the types of lynx, highlighting their unique characteristics, habitats, and behaviors. Likewise, this guide examines their specific diets and other details about their life and adaptations. Read on to learn more about these wild cats.
Related Read: Lynx Facts.
The Lynx is a medium-sized wildcat with tufted ears, a short tail, and large, padded paws. These physical features help it survive in cold, snowy habitats.
For instance, they have thick, camouflaging coats. They weigh between 20 to 44 pounds and measure approximately 31 to 51 inches long.
They live primarily in forested areas, claiming territories that range from 5 to 50 square kilometers. Lynx use ambush hunting tactics; their large paws help them navigate deep snow silently.
Out of the four types, only one is an endangered species. However, they all experience the same threat of habitat loss, illegal hunting, and many others.
Browse down below to get to know more about each species of Lynx.
The Eurasian lynx is a large cat species, with males weighing 18 to 30 kilograms and females between 8 to 21 kilograms. Their fur combines yellow, reddish, and grayish-brown hues and black spots.
Moreover, the patterns on their fur are unique to each lynx. They have tufted ears and cushioned paws, which allow them to move silently and swiftly across different terrains. The Eurasian Lynx lives in vast, untouched forests ranging from Western Europe to Russia's Far East.
These habitats appeal to this cat because they offer a rich variety of hoofed mammals, such as deer and elk, its preferred prey. The Eurasian lynx is a patient predator that relies on sharp vision and hearing to track its prey. It usually launches a surprise attack from a hidden spot.
As a crepuscular creature, the Eurasian Lynx is most active during dawn and dusk.
Moreover, it is a solitary creature, each carving out its territory. Males are more territorial than females, and their territories often overlap those of several females.
This wild cat has six subspecies: Turkestan, Siberian, Balkan, Carpathian, Caucasian, and Northern Lynx.
The Canada lynx, or Canadian lynx, is a medium-sized wildcat native to cold regions of North America. Its silver-gray or tawny fur provides good camouflage. The Lynx's elongated ear tufts enhance its hearing, allowing it to detect potential prey's slightest movement and sound.
Likewise, the Canada Lynx has adapted well to its icy habitat, aided by its broad paws, commonly called 'snowshoes,' and its short, black-tipped tail.
The lynx primarily hunts alone at night. Its hunting habits favor the cloak of twilight. About 75% of its diet consists of their favorite, the snowshoe hare.
However, when snowshoe hares are scarce, these types of lynxes eat birds and rodents. They also share the ability to hunt larger prey with the Siberian Lynx, which can kill reindeer.
This cat is an efficient hunter. Its eyes can pierce through the night's darkness. Moreover, its silent, snowshoe-like paws allow it to weave silently through the deep snow of its boreal forest home with deadly precision.
Three subspecies were proposed for the Canada Lynx. However, due to minimal genetic differences, the IUCN Cat Specialist Group considers them a monotypic species1.
The next lynx cat is the Iberian Lynx living in the Iberian Peninsula. Its coat is yellowish-ochre with dark spots, which helps it blend into the arid scrublands. Likewise, it has a thick beard and long black tufts of hair on its ears, distinguishing it from other lynx species.
Iberian lynxes are a solitary animal. Its territory can vary from 5 to 20 square kilometers, depending on the number of its preferred prey. They specialized in hunting rabbits, which comprise 80-100% of its diet.
Its heavy reliance on one prey species has made it vulnerable in the past, particularly during disease outbreaks that decimated the local rabbit population. Unfortunately, it is also the most endangered cat species on Earth.
In the last decade, conservation efforts have included increasing prey density, providing breeding dens, monitoring illegal traps, and many more. Future plans also include consolidation of existing populations and recolonization. Thanks to this effort, the Iberian lynx population is increasing even though there are less than 200 mature individuals2.
The Bobcat is a highly adaptable wildcat native to North America, whose habitat ranges from Southern Canada to Central Mexico. Multiple subspecies were proposed in the past centuries.
Today, only two have become official subspecies, dividing the wild cat by its habitat — east and west of the Great Plains.
The Bobcat’s name comes from its bobbed tail. Its coat is a mixture of beige and brown with black spots and bars, which camouflages them while hunting or hiding in the bush.
With an average weight ranging between 11 and 30 pounds, it can thrive in various habitats, including dense forests, semi-deserts, and even the outskirts of human settlements.
The Bobcat is a nocturnal predator that relies on stealth and surprise rather than speed and endurance. Its diet includes rabbits, hares, rodents, birds, bats, and deer.
Finally, the Bobcat is a solitary creature that prefers to live away from human civilization.
Lynx cats are solitary and elusive creatures found in various corners of the world. They live in the dense, leafy expanses of Eurasia, Canada's snow-dusted landscapes, and the unique ecosystems in the Iberian Peninsula.
Each of the four Lynx species plays a unique yet crucial role in their habitats. Their natural predation on small mammals helps keep potential overpopulation in check, ensuring the vibrancy and diversity of their ecosystems.
However, these wild animals face various challenges. Preserving lynx populations involves the health of our global ecosystem. Their survival is a call to action. It underscores our responsibility to respect, protect, and preserve the life forms we share with our planet.
Kitchener, A. C., Breitenmoser-Würsten, Ch., Eizirik, E., Gentry, A., Werdelin, L., Wilting, A., Yamaguchi, N., Abramov, A. V., Christiansen, P., Driscoll, C., Duckworth, J. W., Johnson, W., Luo, S.-J., Meijaard, E., O’Donoghue, P., Sanderson, J., Seymour, K., Bruford, M., Groves, C., Hoffmann, M., Nowell, K., Timmons, Z. & Tobe, S. (2017). A revised taxonomy of the Felidae. The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group. Cat News Special Issue 11, 80 pp.
Rodríguez, A. & Calzada, J. (2015). Lynx pardinus (errata version published in 2020). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T12520A174111773.