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Canada Lynx


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Lynx
Species: Lynx canadensis
Lynx (lamp, to see - describes the bright eyes and keen sight) canadensis (of Canada)


The most prominent features of the lynx are the pointed ears with black tuffs on the tips and the black striped ruff around the face. The legs are long with well furred large feet that act as showshoes in the winter. The tail is short with a black tip. The upper parts of the body are tawny or dark brown and black sprinkled with white. The underparts are buffy white spotted with light brown. The adult body lengths are between 950mm and 825mm, with females being smaller than males.

The Canada lynx is highly adapted for life in the northern forests. The wide furry paws distribute its weight over the snow and its long legs help the lynx to move quickly through even deep powder. The tail is short so that it does not drag in the snow, and the black tips of the ears and tail keep them from freezing.


The Canada Lynx is an animal of the boreal forest and rarely ventures far from the shelter of trees, but sometimes can be found above treeline in the summer before moving back down into the trees for winter.

The lynx needs a large home range to find enough food for itself and can travel large distances in search of prey. Although the lynx will take small animals like squirrels, grouse, lemmings and is able to kill animals as large as deer, its main prey is the snowshoe hare. Studies show that the lynx is so dependent on the snowshoe hare for food that there is a pronounced 10 year boom and bust cycle. An increase in the number of hares is soon followed by an increase in the numbers and size of lynx litters. When the hare population crashes (helped along by the numbers of lynx praying on them) a like crash occurs in the lynx numbers. With fewer lynx around the hare population grows starting the cycle again. This cycle is ancient and both species can cope with it.

Lynx mate in early spring between March and May, and have one litter a year from mid-May to Mid-June. The den is simple, often a hollow log or under brush. The litter of from one to five kittens will stay with the mother until the following spring.

© 2002 University of Alberta Museum of Zoology