Animal Guide: Canadian Lynx

Canadian Lynx

Canadian Lynx (Lynx canadensis)

  • Type: Mammal
  • Family: Felidae
  • Habitat: Dense forests, rocky areas, and tundra
  • Location: Across Canada and Alaska and into some parts of the northern United States
  • Diet: Small mammals, mainly snowshoe hares and rodents, but also fish, birds, and deer
  • Average lifespan in the wild: 10-20 years
  • Size: Length 27 to 43 in (70 to 110 cm); tail 2-6 in (5-16 cm)
  • Weight: 11 to 37 lbs (5-17 kg)

Many animals hibernate or migrate to warmer climates in winter, but Canadian lynx are specially adapted to endure cold weather. In addition to a thick winter coat, the lynx has wide, padded, furry paws that work like snowshoes to help the big cat survive winter’s difficult conditions. The Canadian lynx is probably descended from its Eurasian counterpart, which lives in Europe and Siberia. Most likely, ancestors of the modern Canadian lynx migrated across a land bridge during a glacial period, and adapted to their new habitat. The Eurasian lynx is similar in appearance to the Canadian lynx, but nearly twice the size, and mainly hunts large ungulates. Canadian lynx are much better adapted for hunting smaller prey like rabbits.

In fact, snowshoe hares are the main source of prey for Canadian lynx. The population dynamics of Canadian lynx are actually linked to snowshoe hare population cycles, which boom every ten years. A year or two after snowshoe hare populations reach their highest numbers, so do the populations of Canadian lynx. The same is true with lulls—when snowshoe hares are less plentiful, Canadian lynx populations shrink.

Like all cats, the Canadian lynx has exceptional night vision, thanks to a layer of mirror-like cells in their eyes called the tapetum lucidum. Light that is unabsorbed by the retinal receptor layer hits the tapetum lucidum and is reflected right back at the retinal receptor layer for another chance at absorption. This is why cat eyes shine in the dark. Their sensitive whiskers, quick reflexes and acute hearing also help the lynx hunt at night.

Particular to the lynx is its characteristic short tail, long legs, and tufts of black hair at the tips of its ears. Their fur is very soft, and lynx have long been hunted for their coats. Some populations were almost driven to extinction during the 1950s and 60s, when demand for cat furs was at its peak. Lynx are still hunted today, but protection measures and a decreasing demand for furs are helping the species.

Did you know: Mother lynx have been observed hunting cooperatively with their offspring.

Photo by Art G.

  • kayla

    hi hi hi hi hihello peoplezzzzzzz
    peace out hommee

  • erica

    how are you ppl

  • Kiralee

    hey wassup just sayin hi and by to everyone

  • Darla

    hi hi hi hi!!!lol

  • Darla

    good erica…. how r u?

  • Marie:)

    omg i absolutly love canadian lynxs there closest relitive is the bobcat witch live in south america and deserts omg i live in BC so i see theme all the time!!

  • Jesse

    The above gives a lot of information. Marie:), what does BC stand for? Canadian Lynxes look cool.

  • daniel

    bobcats are all over texas

  • Leonie

    Hey Jesse, BC stands for British Columbia, the westernmost province of Canada, approximately the size of France and Germany and bigger than Texas for sure!

  • dalton hattaway

    you all are stupid

  • Jaffgfg

    They r cool cats

  • josh

    I am doing a reserch on Lynx for school and so far i am begining to like them!

  • spencer

    i love the lynx.

  • me

    Canadain Lynx are sweet!!!

  • Shay

    It doesnt say the current population NUMBER anywhere!!!!!!! and I need to know that by Tuesday (in two days) if you can please help me!!!! BTW Dalton Hattaway, Look whose talkin!

  • dalton [is stupid]

    Read the name. Also, I love the Lynx :)

  • Kelsee

    The Canadian lynx is one of the most beautiful animals in western Canada. I was unaware of how far its habitats stretch across north America. this was an amazing adventure reading this page and was an awesome piece of information, i like in SK, and have never seen one before but plan on visiting BC to find on there!

  • shaz

    i lobe lynxes, iam doing them as my school project. I was just wonderinf if you have any advise on how they adapted to there habitats. thankyyou very much.


    LOL X

  • Max

    By far the lynx has to be the least known, least reported on, most seldom mentioned, widely understated and the most unassuming animal. What a treasure! Can we send his name to the Canadian Mint? :)

  • September

    Been doing a lot of research for my schools, if you like the Canada lynx you should also see the iberian lynx, Most endangered Felidae

  • Truro

    There are 50000 Canadian lynxes left in the world.

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