Canada lynx

Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family Felidae
Scientic name Lynx canadensis
French name Lynx du Canada
Size Length of body: 70 to 120 cm (tail: 7 to 15 cm); height at shoulder: 32 to 58 cm
Status Least concern (UICN and CITES)

Distinguishing features The coat of this lynx is silver grey in winter and brown in summer. It has a tuft of long black hairs at the tips of its ears. The end of its short tail is black. Its long, massive paws allow it to walk on top of the snow. Its hind legs are strongly muscled.

Reproduction Canada lynx mate in March and April. The female calls to attract males, which each mate with several females. After a gestation period of 8 to 10 weeks, the female produces one litter of one to five offspring a year, in May or June. They leave their mother in the following spring.

Diet They are strictly carnivorous, and mostly eat snowshoe hares, which make up 75% of their diet. The lynx population rises and falls with the snowshoe hare population, in a ten-year cycle: when the lynx population goes up, the population of its prey declines. They also eat beavers, chipmunks, squirrels, muskrats, mice, foxes, and grouse and other birds. They may sometimes attack larger prey, such as young deer or moose. They normally hide what they don’t eat immediately and come back to it later.

Predators Their main enemies are wolves, cougars and humans.

Habitat They live mainly in Canada, Alaska and the northern United States, in coniferous forests with dense undergrowth, also the habitat of snowshoe hares. They sleep under the roots of fallen trees, under stumps or dead branches or sometimes high in trees. The size of their territory depends on the amount of prey available, but generally ranges from 15 to 40 km², at times as much as 120 km². Males are very territorial and tend to mark the edges of their territory by leaving scat in clear sight.

Ecology An adult lynx may eat as many as 200 hares a year. They can bound up to seven metres. They are also very good climbers and excellent swimmers. These rather solitary cats sometimes hunt in groups during times of scarcity to increase their chances of catching prey. They cover a very large territory and roam from 4 to 20 km a day, almost always along the same trails. This lynx hunts at night and rarely ventures out in daytime, except in winter. They are active all winter long. These animals are very rarely seen in the wild.

At the Biodôme The lynx can be spotted resting high on the rocks. When they wake up, they amble along the edge of the stream or jump from one rock to another. They mark their territory by urinating on the rocks or trees. They are generally more active early and late in the day. Their plaintive cries can often be heard from a distance. At the Biodôme, they are fed horsemeat and dead rats.