The Canada lynx is a species of medium-sized wild cat. “Species” means a type of wild cat that, in this instance, is part of the group of “lynx” wild cats. The other cats in this group are the bobcat, Eurasian lynx and Iberian lynx. They are the same sort of wild cat, although the Eurasian lynx is much bigger. Other names for this cat are: Canadian lynx and American Lynx. The Canada lynx faces two main challenges to survival:
- Avoiding being killed for its beautiful belly fur and…
- Finding enough snowshoe hares to kill and eat as they make up three quarters of what it eats, if there are enough of them.
What The Canada Lynx Looks Like
This is a “snow cat” and I don’t mean the vehicle made for snow. This cat is made to live in a snowy landscape. It has large feet covered with fur, which act as snowshoes, on the end of long legs. It can walk across deep snow pretty easily.
The Canada lynx has gradually become smaller because it feeds on snowshoe hares, which are small animals. This cat weighs between around 8 to 11 kilograms (18 pounds to 24 pounds). It is about 20 inches to the shoulder. The tail is about 10-15 centimeters long (4 – 6 inches) and its tip is black on the top half. On the top and sides of the body the fur is greyish-brown and unspotted while on the undersides it is white and spotted. It is the belly fur that the hunters and trappers kill this cat for. Rarely, there are blue lynx. The Canada lynx has the usual ruff (long fur) hanging from the cheeks.
Where Do You Find the Canada Lynx?
The map above shows you that this cat is found over 98% of Canada and in a smallish part of north-west America. Occasionally cats roam beyond this area of America. It has been killed off (exterminated) in New Brunswick, lower Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
Habitat (places where this cat likes to live)
Forests, and anywhere it can find snowshoe hares, are the places it prefers. If the bobcat and coyote shares its territory it moves to higher places, which are too snowy for the bobcat and coyote. In these areas it does not have to compete with these other predators. This cat uses fallen trees and exposed tree roots as shelters against cold weather.
This cat lives mainly on the ground and alone. It is generally active at night as the hares it hunts are out at night. The Canada lynx can travel more than 9 kilometers a day hunting. Sometimes lynx hunt in groups of 2 or 4. This increases the chances of catching prey. When group hunting in Newfoundland lynx catch 4 out of 10 hares they chase.
As well as hares they hunt birds, rodents and other animals such as squirrels. This cat also eats carrion (animals that are already dead). Although rare, this cat sometimes hunts deer and caribou.
On average, lynx kill between one hare per day to one every two days. Most lynx live in an area of 15-50 square kilometers (50 square kilometers is an area of 5 kilometers by 10 kilometers).
Trapping and killing the Canada lynx for its fur is widespread. That is why I have to mention it. We are told that about 15,000 lynx are killed each year for their fur in Canada and America combined (from 2000-2006). The skins have an average price of $123 and a top price of $340 (2012).
Killing lynx for their fur is called “harvesting”. For me, this is an unpleasant word that gives the impression that these impressive cats are like crops. If harvesting takes place when there are only a few snowshoe hares the population of the lynx in that area may become very low. Despite regular harvesting the experts say that the number of Canada lynx does not change from year to year.
The number of lynx harvested is regulated (controlled under what is called CITES Appendix II). In America some people destroy the habitat of this cat leaving areas that are too small for it too live in. This prevents the cat from living.