North American Lynx

(Lynx canadensis)


North American Lynx IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The North American lynx is a medium-sized cat. It is clearly smaller than its Eursian cousin. Head-body length ranges from 67 to 107 cm, and the short tail is from 5 to 130 cm. Animals typically weigh between 8.5 and 17 kg. On average, males weigh slightly more than females.


Like other lynxes, the North American lynx has whiskers. The triangular ears are tipped with tufts of long black hairs. The paws are quite large and furry, helping to distribute the weight of the animal when moving on snow.


The fur of the body is long and thick. Its colour varies, but is normally yellowish-brown. The upper parts may have a frosted, grey look and the underside may be more buff. Many individuals have dark spots. The tail is often ringed and has a black tip (note: in the bobcat (Lynx rufus) only the upper side of the tip is black.


The North American lynx is a solitary animal. The vast home ranges of males and females overlap. Mating season is February and March. After a gestation period of 9 to 10 weeks, the female gives birth to a litter of 1-5, usually 2-3 kittens in fallen logs, rock cervices or similar shelter. The young have a birth weight of about 200 g. They are weaned at about 5 months but remain with their mother until the following winter's mating season. Females reach sexual maturity at 21 months and males at 33 months.


The North American lynx feeds mainly on snowshoe hares, but takes opportunistically rodens, gallinaceous birds, young or weakened ungulates, and even fish.

Did you know?
that the population size of the North American lynx is linked to the abundance of its main prey item, the snowshoe hare? The populations of the two species are known to fluctuate in linked cycles with periods of about 9.6 years. In these cycles, there is a slight lag between hare and lynx populations.


Name (Scientific) Lynx canadensis
Name (English) North American Lynx
Name (French) Lynx du Canada
Name (German) Kanadaluchs
Name (Spanish) Lince Canadiense
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service



Range Canada, northern USA
Habitat Boreal forest, rocky areas, tundra
Wild population No global data. IUCN red list rating is based on more than 50,000 adult animals.
Zoo population 68 animals reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

North American Lynx


How this animal should be transported

Transport crates should be sufficiently large to meet legal requirements and sufficiently strong to prevent escape or damage to the crate and animal. Basic design should allow free flow of air through multiple sides of the container. Preferably, a double door design at least on one end of the crate should be used. The "inner" door should have bars or wire mesh to contain the animal, and the "outer" door should consist of a thin panel of expanded metal or plywood that provides safety for the handlers and isolation for the animal. The doors should travel vertically to facilitate animal transfer and contain a secure locking system. The crate should drain well, and absorbent bedding should be used to prevent the animal from being exposed to or lying in urine or excreta.


The shipment should be organised in a way to minimise stress. The animal should have access to its transport crate for 2 weeks before shipment, preferably being fed within it. If an extended trip is anticipated, water and food as may be required should be provided while the animal is in transit.


For air transport, Container Note 82 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Matthew Hewett

Why do zoos keep this animal

The North American lynx is globally not threatened. Zoos keep the species therefore primarily for educational reasons and for awaking sympathy for a species, which is not everywhere popular with deer hunters and occasionally may cause problems to small livestock farms. Only few animals are kept by zoo's outside the species' range states.