About Siberian Lynx
With their muscular body, acute senses, highly evolved teeth and claws, lightning reflexes, and camouflage coloration, cats are model hunters. In fact, cats are the most specialized of the mammalian meat eaters.*
Name: Lynx lynx. The name Lynx comes from the Greek word “to shine” and may be in references to the reflective ability in the cat’s eyes.
Taxonomy: The debate continues whether or not the Siberian Lynx is in fact a separate species from the Canadian and Iberian lynxes, or merely a subspecies. Experts are evenly divided on the subject, but for now, it remains a separate species based on its marked adaptive differences for prey.
Status: USFWS – Threatened. CITES – Not Listed
Description: This lynx has yellowish-brown fur that shows seasonal variations in color – darker spots in the summer and lighter, almost invisible spots in the winter. The lynx is known by the tuft of black hair on the tips of its ears and its short, or “bobbed,” tail. Some researchers believe that the purpose of those hair tufts is like whiskers to feel things around them, while others think maybe the tufts help the cat to hear well. The characteristic flared facial ruff and long ear tufts make this lynx easy to confuse with the smaller cousin, the bobcat. While they both have short tails, the tip of a lynx tail is completely black, while a bobcat’s tail has a lighter underside.
Size: The Siberian lynx is the largest of all the lynx. Males can weigh up to 80 pounds and females weigh slightly less.
Anatomy: Cats have a rounded face and a relatively short muzzle (but a wide gape). The heavy lower jaw helps deliver a powerful bite, and the long canines are used for stabbing and gripping. Lynxes are covered with thick soft fur to provide insulation. There are 5 digits on the front feet and 4 on the back feet, and each digit has a curved retractable claw. The claws are normally retracted, which helps keep them sharp. However, when required (during climbing, for example) they spring forward via a mechanism similar to a jackknife. The naked pads on the soles of the feet are surrounded by hair, which assists with silent stalking. The Lynxes back legs are longer than the front legs, so the lynx looks a bit like it’s tipped forward. *
Lifespan: In the wild, the lynx have lived up to 17 years, and in captivity, up to 24.
Diet: Like other cats, the lynx is a stalk-and-ambush hunter. The cats rarely chase after potential food, especially if the snow is deep. Instead they hide behind tree stumps or rocks until a potential meal comes by. The primary diet for this lynx is small ungulates such as roe deer, chamois, musk deer, pikas, and large rodents.
Range and Habitat: Siberian lynx can be found in Scandinavia, Russia, Asia Minor, Iran, Iraq, and Western Europe. It inhabits the high altitude forests (altitudes up to 6,000 feet) mainly with a dense cover of bushes and grass, but is also found in some rocky, barren areas above the mountain tree lines.
Behavior: The lynx is a solitary cat by nature. The only exception to this are females with offspring, siblings who have just separated from their mothers who may travel and hunt together for several months before separating, and male and females that come together for breeding. Hunting usually occurs at night or in the early morning and late afternoon.
Senses: Lynx, as with all cats, have keen senses. Large forward-facing eyes enable them to judge distances accurately. The pupils can contract to a pinhole in bright light and can dilate widely for excellent night vision. The ears are mobile and funnel shaped to draw in sounds. The sense of smell is also well developed, and in the roof of the mouth is a “smell-taste” organ called the Jacobson’s organ, which detects sexual odors. Secretions from scent glands on the cheeks and forehead, under the tail and between the claws communicate information such as age and sex.
Conservation and Threats to Siberian Lynx: The primary causes of population loss are destruction of habitat, loss of prey populations, and human-caused deaths.