THE LYNX CHOICE OF PREY VARIES according to where the lynx lives. In Scandinavia reindeer and deer are the most important. Other preys on the lynx’ list are hare and forest birds (orre, hazel grouse and grouse). Sometimes a lynx kills a sheep. Furthermore the lynx can eat fox, marten or tame cats. In Sweden there is a clear north – south trend as far as clover game is concerned, reindeer in the north and deer in the south.
SMALLER PREYS ARE USUALLY EATEN IMMEDIATELY after hunting them and very little remains of them. Feather, bird’s feet, paws, fur and the head of a hare is what may be remaining after a meal. When having hunted a bigger prey, the lynx often lies down and rests before eating from it. It chooses a place then within visible distance from the dead prey. When eating the prey then, it chooses the meat rich parts of the legs or the shoulders and avoids totally eating the bowels.
A lynx family, consisting of female and 2 cubs can eat a deer in the course of approx. 3 days and nights. A lone lynx can eat up the bigger part of a larger prey. It may then return to the prey several times, provided it does not get disturbed.
FROM A FRESHLY KILLED PREY a lynx can eat several days. An older carcass is seldom touched by a sound lynx. For that reason a lynx never builds up a stock of prey food, like the wolverine does.
IT IS EASY TO SEE, THAT THE LYNX BELONGS TO THE FAMILY OF CATLIKE ANIMALS, but still, it has a number of features that separate the lynx from other cats.
The lynx has long legs with big paws, especially the front paws. It has a short body, but stands very high on the long legs. The hind legs are slightly longer than the front legs which makes the lynx stooping forward. The lynx has a shorter tail than other cats. Also it has side whiskers and a typical tuft upon its ears.
THE SUMMER FUR IS THIN AND SMOOTH, its colour yellow/brown to red brown. Most lynx’ have black spots but the number of spots is varying. The winter fur is lighter coloured, more greyish, thicker and very dense.
THE BLACK FIGURATION ON THE FUR makes part of the lynx body language. The ears carry black edges around lighter spots. The edges change to a tuft upon the ears. The eyes are surrounded inwards and outwards by fine black lines; this makes the eyes to appear bigger then what they are. The beard carries black contrasting figures. Also the short tail has a black zone towards the end. An adult male weighs 20 – 26 kg, a female 16 – 20 kg.
IN MANY ASPECTS THE LYNX IS SIMILAR to our domestic cats; many people consider the lynx to be the most resourceful lone hunter in the Swedish forests.
The most important senses while hunting, are the lynx’ hearing and sight. The lynx often chooses a topographically higher place for scouting after suitable preys.
Bigger preys are being killed by a bite in the throat, and keeping at the throat until the prey suffocates by lack of respiration. Smaller preys are being killed by a bite in the back or in the neck.
Like all other catlike animals the lynx excels in hunting in a stealthy way. In other words the lynx tries to approach the prey as close as possible without being discovered and then makes a rush for it. A lynx can run very fast over short distances; in contrast, they have no condition for hunting a prey over a longer distance. When the lynx fails to catch the prey after 50 – 60 meters, they often give up.
THE LYNX IS OFTEN TYPEFIED as a bloodthirsty animal, killing more preys than necessary. This can also be symbolized by the expression “overkilling”. This is characteristic for the lynx because the animal cannot withstand “free chance” opportunities, even then when it has recently killed a prey. During mating time, the actively moving males hardly take time to eat sufficient as they are continuously searching for females, to copulate with. Another reason for killing new prey can be that the lynx, as a consequence of a weak tooth formation, will avoid eating hard frozen meat.
WHERE HUNTING deer is concerned, the lynx is, together with the fox, humans most serious competitor. Lynx experts as Henrik Andrén and Olof Liberg found lone lynx may kill 40 – 50 deer in the course of a year, which is slightly less than one per week. Females that still live in company with cubs, take about twice as many, owing to the more extended food supply burden.
The lynx is a real long-walker. He prefers traditional, ancient favourite path through the territory, so called lynx’ path. Lynx hunters have, through the years, set up their lynx traps there.
Mating time and cubs
THE LYNX BECOMES SEXUALLY MATURE during its second year of life. This makes the females give birth the first time when they have computed 2 years. In the mountainous areas though, usually the first litter takes place at 3 years of age of the female. Mating time in Scandinavia is from the end of February and continues till the beginning of April. Most copulation takes place in the middle of March-
The cubs are born in May and further until the middle of June, about 70 days after copulation. A litter usually consists of 2 – 3 cubs, with rare exceptions up to 4 cubs.
The cubs have a birth weight of 300 – 350 g-
The cubs remain with the mother normally 9 – 10 month, that is until next mating period for the female.
LIKE MOST CATLIKE ANIMALS the European lynx lives a solitary type of life, meaning that they do not live in flocks. Male and female lynx live alone, but females with new-born cubs, will keep with the cubs a large part of the year. As most females get pregnant every year, they are solitary only shorter period after having given birth the first time.
THE LYNX IS A REAL LONGWALKER. It has been known for a long time that the lynx moves in big areas. Their home territories are largely different in sizes. They may vary from region to region between 40 and 3 500 km 2.
More available prey makes home territories smaller. In Central Europe female lynx have home territories of 40 km2 .In the middle of Sweden 300 km2 and in the mountains up to 400 km2. The male lynx’ have bigger home territories, often somewhat larger than 1 000 km2. Notwithstanding the fact, that the lynx is a very active animal and that it moves around over large territories, very few humans have had the favour of sighting one of them in wild life.
Apart from sufficient access to food the lynx looks for an undisturbed and safe environment as home territory. Mountainous terrain and deep forests often are associated with the lynx, although one oftener meets with trails of the lynx close to urbanization. This should not be seen as abnormal. Security seems to be the lynx’ first priority. Nearness of steep mountains and cliffs improve security for the lynx and make that it can live close to humans.
MOREOVER THE LYNX IS A VERY CURIOUS ANIMAL. More often than not they move close to deserted cottages, farms and summerhouses. When finding a sufficient big hole or an open door they may explore the insides. Its curiousness makes it easy to catch the lynx in a trap.