A lynx is any of four medium-sized wild cats. All are members of the genus Lynx, but there is considerable confusion about the best way to classify felids at present, and some authorities classify them as part of the genus Felis.
The four species placed in this genus are:
- Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis)
- Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx)
- Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus)
- Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Felidae
- Subfamily: Felinae
- Genus: Lynx Kerr, 1792
- Felis lynx: Linnaeus, 1758
Range of Lynx species
- Lynx lynx
- Lynx canadensis
- Lynx pardinus
- Lynx rufus
Lynxes have short tails and usually a tuft of black hair on the tip of the ears. They have a ruff under the neck which has black bars (not very visible) and resembles a bow tie. They have large paws padded for walking on snow and long whiskers on the face. The color of the body varies from light brown to grey and is occasionally marked with dark brown spots, especially on the limbs. They range from about 15 kg (33 pounds) to about 30 kg (66 pounds). The Eurasian Lynx is significantly larger than the other species, while the Iberian Lynx is significantly smaller than the other species.
The lynx inhabits the high altitude forests with dense cover of shrubs, reeds, and grass. Though the cat hunts only on the ground, it can climb trees and swim. Though it can be found in the northern regions of Scandinavia, it is primarily found in North America and also in pockets in the Himalayas.
The Eurasian Lynx was considered to be extinct in the wild in Slovenia and Croatia since the beginning of the 20th century, but a resettlement project which begun in 1973 was a success. Today, lynx can be found in the Slovenian Alps and in the Croatian regions of Gorski Kotar and Velebit. In both countries, lynx is listed as an endangered species and protected by law. Lynx-spotting in nature can be arranged in cooperation with Croatian National Park "Risnjak". Several lynx-resettlement projects have also been carried out successfully in various regions of Switzerland since the 1970's. Since the 1990s, there have been numerous efforts to resettle the Eurasian Lynx in Germany. It can also be found in Białowieża Forest in northeastern Poland. The critically endangered Iberian Lynx lives in southern Spain and before, eastern Portugal. Lynx is more common in northern Europe - especially in Estonia, Finland and northern parts of Russia.
Starting in 1999, the Colorado Division of Wildlife has begun a program reintroducing a wild lynx population back to the United States. The animals' distribution was restricted to Canada before being brought to the Colorado Rockies, where after being tagged with radio collars they frequently migrated throughout the western United States. While showing early signs of promise, biologists say it will take more than a decade to determine whether the program is a success. However, in 2006 the first case of a native-born Colorado lynx giving birth since 1999 was documented: it gave birth to 2 kittens, affirming the possibility of successful reintroduction.
In 2007 several of these lynx have been shot and killed by unknown persons. In some cases only the radio tracking collars were found, leading to suspicions of fur poaching, in other cases the animals were shot and the body left intact.
General behavioral traits resemble that of a leopard. Lynx are usually solitary, although a small group of lynx can travel and hunt together. Mating takes place in the late winter and they give birth to 2 to 4 kittens once a year. Their desired resting place is in crevices or under ledges. They feed on a wide range of animals up to the size of Reindeer, Roe Deer and Chamois, but more often birds, small mammals, fish, sheep and goats. Lynx have been observed (2006) in the Wet Mountains of Colorado. In recent years a few Lynx sightings have started to pop up in the southern Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, specifically in the area from Mount Mitchell across to the Shope Creek Forest area (part of Pisgah National Forrest). One Lynx was even caught alive in a cage trap at Graystone Cabins near Barnardsville, NC - the animal was later released alive in a wilderness area within Madison County, NC. Although USFWS officials still deny the presence of Lynx in the southern Appalachians, the most recent sighting was reported in Sept 2007, along the Shope Creek Forest area. USFWS officials say that if these sightings were in fact Lynx, that they were most likely illegally held pets that were either let go or had escaped. Spotting a lynx is a very rare event in and of itself, due to the extremely shy and solitary nature of the animal. It is a secretive cat and usually avoids people; it has been reported to attack humans, but very rarely, almost exclusively in defense.
- Hunting lynxes is illegal in many countries.
- The Canadian Lynx is an endangered species in the United States.
Lynx - Mythology
The Lynx is an elusive, ghost-like animal that sees without being seen. Often called "the keeper of secrets of the forest", its magical appearance stems from the mystery that such a creature's secrecy can also be its strength. The Lynx teaches us that even the smallest can succeed in life, and that the world can unfold itself to those who stop and listen.
Roles of the Lynx
The lynx is not a guardian of secrets so much as the one who knows them, especially when it comes to those secrets that are either obscured by time and space or are completely lost to the world. The lynx is therefore associated with divination and clairvoyance. Those who seek the lynx may find difficulty in getting it to cooperate. Just because the lynx knows secrets does not mean it wishes to share them. Only by respecting the lynx's behavior and listening carefully may one begin to receive an answer.
This power and ability to remain unseen attracted ancient warriors to adopt the lynx and, thus, they believed, its nature. Cunning, solitary hunters, lynx have large eyes and a keen sense of hearing which enables them to hunt at night.
Those who have been touched by the lynx's presence may be given a boon and bane. A lynx may guide the listener to a secret, whether it be a lost object or a hidden truth that is somehow relevant at the present time. On the other hand, the lynx may be an omen to warn those who have somehow betrayed the confidentiality of oneself or others.
The lynx was chosen as the emblem of the Accademia dei Lincei ("Academy of the Lynxes"), one of the world's oldest scientific societies. Its piercing vision was invoked symbolically as characteristic of those dedicated to science.
Associations and attributes
The lynx is associated with Dionysus and Lugh. Though lynx are undoubtedly of keen eyesight, this quality of the lynx may have been conflated with the attributes of the near homophonic Lynceus.
In medieval times, the lynx was said to produce a gem. According to many bestiaries, the Lynx would urinate in a hole that it had dug in ground, and then cover it with dirt. The urine would form a gem after so many days. Forcing the Lynx to produce the gem was believed to be a devilish act. Many Medieval naturalists identified the gem as a carbuncle, which is an archaic term for the garnet. The typical feline behavior was interpreted as being somewhat "miserly" according to Medieval observers.
The Iberian Lynx
The Iberian Lynx, the most endangered of the world’s 36 cats, stands on the edge of extinction. The latest studies, based on DNA analysis, make depressing reading. Despite decades of protection, millions of pesetas and euros spent, hundreds of studies, and the work of some of Europe’s best conservationists and zoologists, just over one hundred viable adults remain in the wild (in comparison, say, with some 8,000 tigers) divided between two unconnected breeding populations in Andalusia. Whoever and whatever is to blame, the lynx’s imminent disappearance will be the first extinction of a world feline, discounting sub-species of tigers and lions, since the saber-toothed tiger some 10,000 years ago and will forever leave a dark mark on Spanish conservationism.