Canada Lynx


Canada Lynx (Lynx Canadensis)

The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) or Canadian lynx is a North American mammal of the cat family, Felidae. It is a close relative of the Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx). However, in some characteristics the Canada lynx is more like the bobcat (Lynx rufus) than the Eurasian Lynx. With the recognised subspecies, it ranges across Canada and into Alaska as well as some parts of the northern United States.

With a dense silvery-brown coat, ruffed face and tufted ears, the Canada lynx resembles the other species of the mid-sized Lynx genus. It is larger than the bobcat, with which it shares parts of its range, and over twice the size of the domestic cat.


There had been debates over whether to classify this species as Lynx canadensis or Felis canadensis, part of a wider issue regarding whether each species of lynx should be given their own genus, or be placed as a subgenus of Felis,[4][5] but the Lynx genus is now accepted. Johnson et al. report that Lynx shared a clade with the Puma, leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), and domestic cat (Felis) lineages, dated to 7.15 MaLynx diverged first, approximately 3.24 Ma.[6]


Three subspecies of the Canada lynx are currently recognised:

  • L. canadensis canadensis
  • L. canadensis mollipilosus
  • L. canadensis subsolanus:[1] the Newfoundland lynx is larger than the mainland subspecies, and is known to kill caribou calves when snowshoe hares are not available.

Physical characteristics

The appearance of the Canada lynx is similar to that of the Eurasian lynx: the dense fur is silvery brown and may bear blackish markings. In summer, its coat takes on a more reddish brown color. It has a furry ruff which resembles a double-pointed beard, a short tail with a black tip, and long furry tufts on its ears. Its long legs with broad furred feet aid in traveling through deep snow.

It is smaller than its Eurasian cousin, at a weight of 5 to 17 kg (11 to 37 lb), 76 to 106 cm (30 to 42 in) in length, and a shoulder height of 48 to 56 cm (19 to 22 in). Males are larger than females. Although the species is larger on average than the bobcat, it is less variable in size and the largest bobcats outsize the lynx.[7][8]

Like all lynx, it has 28 teeth, with four long canines for puncturing and gripping. The lynx can feel where it is biting the prey with its canines because they are heavily laced with nerves. The lynx also has four carnassials that cut the meat into small pieces. In order for the lynx to use its carnassials, it must chew the meat with its head to its side. There are large spaces between the four canines and the rest of the teeth, and a reduced number of premolars, to ensure that the bite goes as deeply as possible into the prey.[9]

Adaptations that lynx have for manoeuvring through the deep snow are feet with a large gap between the first and second toes and their big toe set at a wide angle which gives them a better vicelike grip on the snow.


Canada lynxes are secretive and mostly nocturnal animals, although they may be active at any time of day. They shelter in areas of particularly dense forest. In regions where their range overlaps with that of other predators, such as bobcats and coyotes, they tend to hunt in areas with deeper snow cover, or at higher altitudes. These cats tend to stay within 100 yards (91 m) of the treeline, but do not shy away from swimming. One account records a lynx swimming two miles across the Yukon River.[10]

Although normally solitary, at times small groups may be observed travelling together. The lynx roam about 2.5 to 5 km (1.6 to 3.1 mi) each day and therefore require a large territory. Typical home ranges are between 15 and 50 km2 (5.8 and 19.3 sq mi), but are highly variable, with extremes from 3 to 783 km2 (1.2 to 302.3 sq mi) having been reported. When food becomes scarce, the lynx territory will increase; most of the population will roam far, with a select few staying behind in their original territory.[11]

Like other cats, Canada lynx use scent marking to indicate their territory. Adults typically deposit faeces on top of the snow or on tree stumps and other prominent sites and frequently spray urine to mark their range.[11] They also use visual marks on trees.[12]

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