Common Name: Eurasian Lynx, Siberian Lynx
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)
Genus: Felinae (Lynx)
Misc: The debate continues whether or not the Siberian Lynx is in fact a separate species from the Canadian and Iberian Lynxes, or merely a sub-species. Experts are evenly divided on this subject, but for now, it remains a separate species based on its marked adaptive differences for prey capture. The name Lynx comes from the Greek word “to shine,” and may be in reference to the reflective ability of the cat’s eyes. In Scandinavia, lynx with spots are called “cat lynx” and unspotted ones are called “wolf lynx.”
Size and Appearance: The Eurasian Lynx is the largest of the Lynxes, with males weighing as much as 90 pounds. The fur is typically grayish, with tints varying from yellowish to rusty. They have 3 main patterns: predominately spotted, predominantly striped, and unpatterned. The coats are more heavily spotted in the summer phase, and almost barely visible in the winter phase.They have a flared facial ruff, long prominent black ear tufts, and long hind legs with a short black tipped tail. Their large, wide-spreading feet are covered in fur, which act like snowshoes, and are effective in supporting the cat’s weight on the snow. They are often confused with their smaller feline cousins the Bobcat, but can be easily distinguished by their tail tips. The tail of the Lynx looks as though it was dipped in an inkwell being black all the way around, whereas the Bobcat’s tail appears to have been painted black on top and white on the bottom.
Habitat: These Lynx are found to inhabit taiga, alpine tundra and some rocky, barren areas above the mountain tree lines.
Distribution: Asia, Europe, and former USSR.
Reproduction and Offspring: After a gestation of approximately 69 days, females produce a litter of 1-4 kittens, with the average being 2. They weigh 8.75-12.5 ounces at birth and will open their eyes at around 10-17 day, and begin to walk between 24-30 days. They are weaned between 3-5 months of age, and are independent at the age of 10 months. They reach sexual maturity around 24 months for females and 30 months for males.
In the wild, Eurasian Lynx have lived up to 17 years, and in captivity, up to 24.
Social System and Communication: Solitary, except for females with offspring, or siblings who have just separated from their mothers who may travel and hunt together for several months before separating. Hear our purrs, hisses, snarls, calls, and growl sounds HERE
Hunting and Diet: The primary diet for this Lynx is small ungulates such as roe deer, chamois, and musk deer, and in other parts pikas, large rodents and hares. In some of their range, they will hunt larger ungulates as much as 3-4 times their own size – most notably reindeer. In areas where there are no ungulates, but arctic hares exist, then they fluctuate cyclically, as do the Canadian Lynx.
Principal Threats: The largest threat facing this Lynx is the destruction of its prey base, loss of habitat and the increasing urbanization of western Europe. There is still some hunting of the Lynx for the pelt trade, but it is believed to be restricted to less than 1,000 per year from China and 2,800 per year from Russia. It is believed that both countries have been keeping those numbers well below their quotas, and each country has exported below 1,000 per year. That is a good sign and shows that perhaps there is some hope to an end of interest in these pelts yet. In the past numbers were as high as 6000 per year and have reached highs of 12,000 in a year.
Status: CITES: Appendix II. IUCN: Not listed.
Felid TAG recommendation: (Lynx, lynx) Various subspecies of Eurasian lynx are present in zoos. None are rare or endangered in the wild, but, in some situations, this species competes with space that should be allocated to Canadian lynx. The TAG does not support maintenance of this species and its various forms in North America.
How rare is this cat? The International Species Information Service lists 224 in zoos worldwide, with 19 being in the U.S.
Information reprinted With Permission from the IUCN Wild Cats Book
Meet our lynx friends: