The Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) is a medium-sized felid that can be found in North America, and I mean northern North America. Its range is over most of Canada, Alaska, and some of the very northern parts of the Lower 48.
Canada Lynx is similar in appearance to the Eurasian Lynx. In the winter, its fur is silver-brown and silver-black. In the summer, it can become a more reddish-brown. It rocks some truly awesome facial hair in the form of a great ruff and long black tufts on its ears.
There are three recognized subspecies of Canada Lynx:
- Lynx canadensis canadensis
- Lynx canadensis mollipilosus
- Lynx canadensis subsolanus
L. c. subsolanus is also known as the Newfoundland Lynx, and is the largest of the three subspecies. They have been known to hunt and kill caribou calves when their preferred prey, the snowshoe hare, is not available.
In general, Canada Lynxes can weigh up to 24 pounds (11 Kg) and measure 41 inches (105 cm) from nose to the base of the tail. Males are larger than females, and they do not have the variability in size the way their typically smaller cousins, the Bobcats, do. The largest Bobcat will outweigh the average Lynx. As mentioned above, the preferred prey of the Canada Lynx is the snowshoe hare. In order to be competitive enough to hunt the hares in winter, the Canada Lynx has an amazing adaptation:
Its paws. The Canada Lynx has a large gap between the first and second toe, and their big toe is set at a wide angle in order to give them a better grip on the snow.
The breeding season of the Canada Lynx lasts for only one month in the spring, from the end of March to beginning of May. Female Lynxes will give birth to a litter of one to eight kittens after a gestation period of 64 days. The size of the litter is correlated with the abundance of prey. Lean years will bring small litters, and years of plenty will bring plenty of kittens.
Canada Lynx are typically solitary animals, but on occasion they have been observed to travel together. They are nocturnal, but could be active at any time during the day as well.
These cats are trapped (!) for their fur and have suffered population declines because of it, and also loss of habitat. However, the IUCN considers them to be a species of Least Concern. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Final Rule in March 2000, designating the Canada Lynx a Threatened Species in the Lower 48.