Lince (Sp), Luchs (G), Lynx (F). Sometimes called northern lynx.
DESCRIPTION Head and body length 31-51 inches (79-130 cm). Tail length 4-8 inches (10-20 cm). Shoulder height 24-30 inches (61-76 cm). Weight 40-55 pounds (18-25 kg). Females are slightly smaller than males.
The Eurasian lynx is the largest of the world's lynxes. It is a distinctive, medium-sized cat with prominent black ear tufts, pronounced cheek ruffs, relatively long legs, very large feet, and a short tail with a black tip. The coat is reddish-gray to yellowish-gray, and may be predominantely spotted, predominantely striped, or unpatterned. The winter coat is long, soft and thick, and the paws are densely furred for walking in snow.
BEHAVIOR Solitary, except when breeding or when females are with their young. Territorial. Mating season is March-April. The female delivers one litter a year, usually with 2-3 kittens (range is 1-5) that remain with her until the following winter. Eurasian lynxes have lived as long as 21 years in captivity.
A shy animal that is seldom seen by humans. Active mainly during evening and morning. A poor, quickly winded runner, but a tireless walker and good tree climber. Good swimmer, able to cross large rivers. Eyesight and hearing are good, sense of smell is adequate. Hunts mainly by sight, preying on small hoofed mammals such as roe deer, chamois, and fawns of larger deer species. Will generally take small animals such as rabbits only when larger prey is unavailable.
HABITAT Wooded areas, preferably high forests with dense undergrowth, often in steep, mountainous terrain.
DISTRIBUTION Eurasian lynxes are found in the taiga forest zone from Scandinavia to eastern Siberia, and in the mountain forests of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In Europe, they occur mainly in Scandinavia and Russia, and in the Carpathian Mountains along the Czech-Polish border and extending through Romania. Isolated populations also occur in northeastern Poland, the Balkan countries, and possibly southern France. Recently reintroduced in parts of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and the former Yugoslavia.
REMARKS Lynxes may be hunted in several eastern European countries. Usually taken as a target of opportunity while stalking another animal, or during a drive for wild boar.
TAXONOMIC NOTES Authorities differ on how to classify lynxes, but, following the current consensus, we treat the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), Spanish lynx (L. pardinus) and Canada lynx (L. canadensis) as separate species within the genus Lynx.
A number of subspecies of Eurasian lynx have been listed, of which the following are found in Europe: lynx (European lynx), most of Europe and eastward from the Ural Mountains to the Yenesei River in Asia; carpathica (Carpathian lynx), Carpathian Mountains; balcanica (Balkan lynx), Balkans; dinniki (Caucasian lynx), Caucasus Mountains and adjacent parts of Asia; and sardiniae (Sardinian lynx), Sardinia. Biologists doubt that all these forms are valid. They are not separated here.
STATUS Lynxes occurred over most of Europe within historical times, but disappeared from all but the remotest areas during the l9th and early 20th centuries because of excessive hunting and trapping. Since receiving protection early in the 20th century, their numbers have been recovering and they have expanded their range.