Eurasian lynx

Lynx (Felis) lynx

SUBFAMILY

Felinae

TAXONOMY

Felis lynx (Linnaeus, 1758), Sweden.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Lynx; German: Luchs; Spanish: Lince.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length 32-51 in (80-130 cm); tail 2-7 in (5-19 cm); weight 17-68 lb (8-31 kg). Light grayish brown coat with dark spots, striped or unpatterned. Black-tipped tail, long, black ear tufts, two tassels on throat. Paws large are padded with thick fur, acting as "snowshoes."

DISTRIBUTION

Western Europe to Siberia, central Asia to Himalayas. HABITAT

Cold coniferous forest and thick scrub in Europe and Siberia. Rocky hills and mountains of Central Asian deserts.

BEHAVIOR

Most active at dawn and dusk. Population density varies considerably with prey availability but may reach 46 per 100 mi2 (250 km2) in optimal conditions. Male home range typically 100 mi2 (260 km2), female range 66 mi2 (168 km ). Males visit borders of territory regularly, females spend most time in core areas. Males may share range with just one female and offspring.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Rodents, hares, blue sheep, deer. Take prey up to four times their own size, including red deer and reindeer. Larger ungulates most often killed in winter, when snow restricts their movement. Forage over wide areas.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Gestation 60-74 days. Litter one to five.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Considered Lower Risk/Near Threatened by IUCN. Very widely distributed but locally rare in many places. In Europe almost eradicated from all but the north and east, but populations have been reintroduced in several parts of Western Europe. Main threats are destruction of ungulate prey base, hunting pressure, and deforestation.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

More than 5,000 may be trapped for fur in Russia in some years. Russia and China have set export quotas. Impact of fur-trapping difficult to quantify. Stock losses have been a problem with lynx reintroductions to Western Europe, but are compensated by government or environmental groups. ♦

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