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Lynx, Canadian

Lynx, CanadianThe debate continues whether or not the Canadian Lynx is in fact a separate species from the Eurasian (a.k.a. Siberian or Iberian) Lynx, or merely a sub-specie. Experts are evenly divided on this subject, but for now, it remains a separate species based on its marked adaptive differences for prey capture. The name Lynx comes from the Greek word "to shine," and may be in reference to the reflective ability of the cats eyes.

Zoological name: Lynx canadensis

Species: The Newfoundland animals are sometimes considered to be a separate subspecies, F. (L.) c. subsolanus. Major populations of Canadian lynx are found throughout Canada, in western Montana and nearby parts of Idaho and Washington. There are small populations in New England and Utah and possibly in Oregon, Wyoming and Colorado as well.

Presence on the planet: Major populations of Canadian lynx are found throughout Canada, in western Montana and nearby parts of Idaho and Washington. There are small populations in New England and Utah and possibly in Oregon, Wyoming and Colorado as well.

Physical description: Canada lynx are easily recognizable cats with their black ear tufts, flared facial ruff, and very short tail. They can only be confused with the closely related bobcat Lynx rufus in the southern part of their range, however, a close look 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. Their tail has a black tip, while the bobcats is more striped and white underneath. These two cat species seem to have divided the continent up between them, with the lynx in the northern forests and the bobcat being limited by snow depth to southern Canada, and through to Central Mexico.

Lynx, Canadian Diet: Canada lynx feed almost exclusively on snowshoe hares and have adapted to the cyclic availability of their prey. Snowshoe hare numbers peak every 10 years. As they then start to decline, so do lynx numbers after a two year lag. As the hare population decreases, fewer lynx reproduce and litter size decreases.

When snowshoe hares are scarce, Canada lynx will also feed on small to medium-sized mammals and birds. They hunt by stalking or ambushing prey.

Reproduction & Offspring: After a gestation of approximately 63-70 days, females produce a litter of 1-8 kittens, with the average varying depending on the abundance of prey. They weigh 7-7.5 ounces at birth and will open their eyes at around 10-17 day, and begin to walk between 24-30 days. They are weaned between 3-5 months of age, and reach sexual maturity around 23 months. The number of offspring is directly related to the abundance of prey, as is the age of sexual maturity. When prey is very abundant, females will breed as early as 10 months.

Conservation status: Trapping continues to be one of the greatest threats for the Lynx, and as Lynx are easily trapped, when done during times of low numbers it makes recovery of the population extremely difficult. As is with every other feline population, these too face habitat loss due to destruction by humans. However bleak this sounds, the outlook for the Canadian Lynx is better and more promising than it is for many of the other feline species.

Status: CITES: Appendix II. IUCN: Not listed. Threatened as of 2000.

Life span: 15 - 21 years
The word "Lynx"

The word lynx comes from the Greek word to shine. This may refer to the reflective cells that assist cats to see at night by re-using light that has already passed through the eye chamber by reflecting it back a second time. They are mainly terrestrial and nocturnal, although they may also hunt during the day if prey is scarce. Lynx are thought to hunt mainly by sight and hearing, relying on smell to a lesser extent. They usually stalk their prey to within a few bounds before pouncing, but they are also known to wait in ambush for hours. Adult females and kittens have been observed to hunt co-operatively. Their main prey in all areas of their range is the snowshoe hare.

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