Stable Canada Lynx Lynx canadensis are the most common and widespread feline in Canada. They are easily recognizable cats with their black ear tufts, flared facial ruff, and very short tail. A closer look, however, reveals a number of differences. The Lynx has longer legs and broader footpads for walking in deep snow. Their ear tufts are longer, and the facial ruff is more developed.
These two cat species seem to have divided the continent up between them, with the Bobcat being limited by snow depth to southern Canada through to Central Mexico, and the Canada Lynx in the northern forests. The fur is usually white tipped, giving the animal a frosted appearance. Their thick, soft pelt can be variably marked with more or less distinct dark spots, and sometimes small stripes. The legs are long, with the rear limbs longer than the front ones, giving the body a tilted forward or slightly stooped appearance.
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The footpads are broad and well furred, and the tail is very short and black tipped. The ears have long, erect tufts of dark hairs, and black backsides towards the tip.
These tufts are just as sensitive as their whiskers, and the slightest breath of wind can be detected by the cat. They favour forests with dense undercover vegetation such as thickets and deadfalls, with marshy areas and rocky outcrops.
Their total range in North America is 7. Their range follows that of their main prey species, the snowshoe hare. The Canada Lynx is the only known felid to undergo prey-driven cyclic population declines.
Lynx have been recorded travelling long distances, up to 1, km, seeking out patches of hare abundance. A study in the Yukon found home ranges increased from Several cats abandoned their home ranges during this period, and many dispersed km or more. Overpopulation means they eventually wipe out their food supply and their numbers plummet. Lynx populations follow the hare cycle with a lag of one or two years. Lynx favour mid-sized prey in order to compensate for the immense amount of energy expended to catch it.
Other prey species may be taken opportunistically, or when hare numbers are low. It takes 50 voles to equal the food energy from one snowshoe hare, however, and the voles live beneath the snow cover in the winter. Hares are active year round. Carnivore populations are increasingly confined to reserves surrounded by human developments.
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The boundaries of these ecological islands are risky because of habitat loss and human-carnivore conflict. Researchers attributed this to a 25 year old fire which has since created successional habitat highly suitable for the snowshoe hare. Their results suggest Canada Lynx occurrence is associated with habitat that is highly suitable for their primary prey, even if that habitat is located near humans.
Comparative illustration of bobcat top and Canada lynx bottom heads Photograph of a six-foot man compared to a Canadian Lynx.
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The Canada lynx is a medium-sized cat, similar in many ways to the bobcat. At roughly half the size of the Eurasian lynx, physical proportions do not vary significantly across its range and are probably naturally selected to allow the animal to survive on smaller prey.
The stubby tail, typical of lynxes, measures 5—15 centimetres 2. Some dark spots can be seen on the underbelly, where the fur is white sometimes with a hint of buff ; there are four nipples.
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 carnassial teeth 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 the second upper premolars are absent, to ensure that the bite goes as deeply as possible into the prey.
The paws, broadened by the wide-spaced metatarsals can spread as wide as 10 centimetres 3. Nevertheless, activity may be observed during daytime. The two common methods are examining the tracks of the lynx on snow snow-tracking and radio telemetry ; snow-tracking generally gives smaller sizes for home ranges. Studies based on snow-tracking have estimated home range sizes of The study coincided with an immigration of lynxes into Minnesota, where hares occurred in small numbers.
The study suggested that individuals tend to avoid one another and thus passively defend their ranges. A study showed that the mean size of home ranges trebled—from Consequently, a period of hare scarcity occurs every 8 to 11 years.
The Canada lynx tends to be less selective in summer and autumn, preying on other small mammals, though snowshoe hares continue to prevail in the diet. Coyotes, with a success rate of Lynxes rarely cached their kills, unlike coyotes, and this may have led to incomplete consumption of some kills. During the cyclic decrease in snowshoe hare numbers, both predators hunted for the same time period as they did when hares were abundant, but lynxes killed more hares than they did earlier.
Moreover, lynxes supplemented their diet with red squirrels.
Young ungulates are given a throat bite to suffocate them to death. They can eat their kill immediately or cache them in snow or leaves to eat them over the next few days. Females come into oestrus only once during this period, lasting for three to five days. Mating can occur six times in one hour. The female lynx will only mate with one male each season, but the male may mate with multiple females.