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The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx)




Body length: 80 – 105 cm

Tail: 10 – 30 cm (cca 20 cm)

Weight: 15 – 36 kg (cca 25 kg)


Lynx males are usually about 15% heavier than females. The body structure is characterized by long limbs so in side view the body looks as a square. From this aspect the lynx differs from the basic structural plan of other felines. The long limbs have huge and strong feet. Especially during winter season when they have more dense and longer hair it holds about 40 grams of body weight per one square centimeter. This makes the lynx different from other felines with lower weight with worse weight distribution. It allows them to move very well on the snow. The lynxes can move on high and even soft snow without considerable problems. They move in one track line. During movement in the snow they never touch the snow cover with their abdomen. 


The front limbs represent only 80% of the length of the rear limbs. Because of this the back part of the body looks a little bit higher. This physical feature allows them to run fast and to make huge jumps. The claws on the rear limbs are a little bit more curveted than on front limbs. They arc sickle-like backwards. During run the claws are sheathed with the skin and fur around the toe pads. The claws on the front limbs are approximately 4 cm long.


The fur of the lynxes is characterized by very dense and soft underhair and guard hair 5-7 cm long. The lynxes are more haired on the back than on the abdomen although some hairs on the abdomen look very long. Dark spots on the brown back are very various, they can create a typical pattern on some places. The short stub-like tail is ended by black top. The lynx can turn it as well as erect it. 


The big eyes of the distinctive lynx´ face are directed forward. They allow deeply sharp stereoscopic vision. The lower part of the face is lined with long whiskers, which occur also in other felines but not so markedly. It is possible that they helped the lynx as a reflector enhancing audio perception. The lynxes have an extremely good hearing. During hunting they use and rely on their ears. On the tip of their ears they have 4 cm tufts of black hair which markedly contrast with the light edge of the ear. The skull of the lynx is shortened, typical for felines, and they have very strong eye-teeth with small channels in the jaw. Because of this peculiarity the lynx is between two subfamilies Pantherinae (big cats) and Felinae (small cats). The dental formula of the lynx is 312(3)1/3121 and he has 28 (30) teeth.





The Eurasian lynx occurs in the forest part of Eurasia, from the Pyrenees Mts. to eastern Siberia, Korea, central and western Asia. He only does not occur in open steppes and tundra. Because of continuous forest logging the lynx got almost extinct in most of Europe. Today, the lynx occurs in the remaining areas in Carpathian mountain system, Balkan and Scandinavia. Its physical characteristics reflect marked adapting to forest biotope. A quadratic body form can be considered as a compromise between a fast running and a well jumping form. The most suitable conditions for lynx represent forests of semi-high mountains. Here, from view-points, it can observe its prey and to make fast attacks or surprising jumps. The forest offers it enough shelters in comparison with open landscape where the running hunting manner is more suitable.


The lynx does not have any special requirements for the type of forest. Only the forest area has to be large enough. Because of this, the border of occurrence stretches along the southern border of forest landscapes. Well overgrow forests with windthrows, young trees, sunny forest glades insure an optimal conditions for it. A similar border occurs also in northern parts of its occurrence where the forests continue as tundra or in Balkan from deep forests to multiform landscape relief. In Slovakia, the lynx occurs in vast deep forests, in middle and higher levels of mountain parts. In past, the lynx occurred commonly in our forests. However, excessive hunting as well as wood logging resulted in decline of the number and it is listed as an endangered species throughout Europe.



Way of life


The lynxes are active mostly in the night. However, they have phases of increased activity also during the day, mostly when they are hungry or in the areas in which they are not pursued or disturbed. They search stone cavities, caves, or very dense forests as resting places.


The area of their hunting range depends on prey abundance and it averages between 20 to 60 square km. usually they live solitarily and they mark their home-ranges by scent with urine. The well bordered home range can also include the home range of a female with cubs (observation from Sweden). Then they use the same space in different time. 



The diet of the lynxes consists of different prey species. From small mammals such as mice to roes and young deer. In the area of the occurrence of  hares and rabbits, they are the basic diet. They catch them by one meter long jumps and catch them with their large pawns. The main prey are especially roes, they hunt mostly weakened or sick individuals so the lynx has a sanitary role in the nature. In south-siberian mountains, the roes represent 46% of prey. Because high snow cover makes it hard for roes to escape, the lynxes use this in their favour. Generally, one can not say that increased number of lynxes could represent a danger for the roes. Under high abundance of the lynxes also hazel grouses and other bird species can represent an important part of their prey.    




Mating takes place in late winter, in February or March. The females, which are ready for breeding show it by urine signs which the males search and follow intensively. During this time one can hear also voices as low whimpering. The gestation time of lynx is about 64 to 74 days and they give birth to 1-4 kittens (usually 2-3). Birth places occur in well sheltered and inaccessible places which are partially covered. Born kittens are usually 250-300 grams weight. Their ear holes are partially covered by the thin skin. They open their eyes after 16-17 days. Several days later, milk teeth start to develop and kittens start to go out from the den. If somebody finds their den, the mother removes them to another shelter. The kittens feed milk for half of year but they also obtain solid food as 2 months old. After the first winter they are 10 to 15 kg in weight. The females reach sexual maturity after the 21st month and the males after 33rd. They can live for 14-17 years.


The lynx is protected year around. It is listed as a critically endangered animal species with the basic social value of 80.000,- Sk (2.655,51 €).

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