Dense exotic fur, chubby paws, amusing tassels on the tips of the ears… It would seem that a lynx — cutest creature from the cat family. But that was not the case, this is a rather serious predator, with which jokes are bad, and games are not at all appropriate! It is better to admire the habits and appearance of this worthy animal from afar, using the lens of your camera as a sight, and not a gun.
Origin of the species and description
Lynxes — ancient animals. The evolution of their kind has been going on for more than 4 million years. The lynx is ordinary, it is also Eurasian. descended from a common ancestor of the lynx genus — Issoire Lynx (issoire lynx). It is a large mammal of the cat family. The appearance of this cat is peculiar — the body is short, and the powerful legs are quite long.
The lynx belongs to the subfamily Felinae, which means Small cats. Their main feature — hardening of the hyoid bone, which prevents the animal from growling loudly. But this cat can make subtle squealing sounds that are similar to the roar of a bear. Well, a lynx can purr and meow, like any cat.
Lynx — extraordinarily beautiful. They are so stuffed with wool that it sticks out even between the pads of their fingers. In winter, their legs become especially fluffy, this helps the cat to easily walk on a thick layer of loose snow and not fall through. The front legs are shorter than the hind legs. They have 4 fingers. And on the hind legs there are 5 of them, but one pair — reduced. Lynxes are digitigrade, like all cats.
They have very sharp, curved retractable claws, so these animals are great at climbing trees and rocks. They move in steps or cat trot, sometimes they make jumps 3-4 m long, but rarely enough. They are capable of speeds up to 65 km/h, however, for a short time. But in general, these cats overcome decent distances. They are also excellent swimmers.
The tail of an adult lynx can be from 10 to 30 cm, which is considered an unenviable length for cats. The tip of the tail is blunt, usually black, but white is also found. The weight of the common lynx is about 20 kg. Occasionally there are individuals weighing up to 25 kg. Males, as expected, are larger than females.
Appearance and Features
The head of these cats has several characteristic features. On the sides are the so-called sideburns — elongated patches of hair. Another sign — these are the famous tassels on the ears. The lynx has powerful narrow jaws, a large wide nose. On the upper lip there are several rows of vibrissae, hard and long.
The muzzle of the lynx itself is short. Her eyes are large, sand-colored, with round pupils. Her fur is simply excellent — soft, thick and very tall. In the belly area, the coat is especially long and white, with small specks. The color of the lynx varies from fawn-smoky to rusty-red. It all depends on the geographical area where — the further south it is, the more red the color of the lynx.
Spotting can be more or less pronounced. As a rule, spots are concentrated on the back, sides and head of the cat. On the belly, the speck is rare, where the wool is almost always pure white. There is a molt twice a year. The summer coat of the lynx is coarser and darker than the winter coat. Speckles in summer are marked much more clearly. Tassels on the ears are always dark in color, their length is — 4 cm
The lynx has excellent hearing, and last but not least, this is the merit of brushes. During the hunt, the cat is able to hear even the most fleeting sounds. For example, she can hear a hare crunching with branches for 100 m. Her eyesight is also well developed, a lynx can distinguish colors and even the degree of their brightness! But the cat's sense of smell is rather weak, but if the trail is fresh, it will easily track down the prey.
Where does the lynx live?
The lynx lives in dense forests, where there is a lot of prey. In sparse forests or thickets of shrubs, it is much less common. This cat is also found in the mountains and cactus thickets. In open areas, the lynx will never settle. In general, it tries to stay as far away as possible in the territories inhabited by it.
The common lynx lives only in the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth. Its habitat extends almost through all of Scandinavia, Europe, to the east and north of Russia, further to Central Asia.
Countries in which the common lynx is found:
- Balkan Peninsula: Serbia, Macedonia, Albania;
- Carpathians: from the Czech Republic to Romania;
- Scandinavia: Norway, Finland, Sweden;
- Transcaucasia: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia;
- Central Asia: China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan;
- The Baltics.
Among the whole cat family, the lynx is an ordinary — the coldest animal. It is found even beyond the Arctic Circle, in Scandinavia. Once this animal could be seen in any part of Europe. But by the middle of the 20th century, it was almost completely exterminated in Central and Western Europe.
Today, they are trying to restore the population of these cats, and very successfully. However, it is scarce everywhere. In Russia, 90% of lynxes live in the Siberian coniferous forests, although they are found from the western borders of the country to Sakhalin itself.
What does a lynx eat?
If there is a lot of food in the area , lynx leads a sedentary lifestyle. Otherwise, she has to roam in search of food.
The basis of the diet of a lynx is usually:
- white hares;
- grouse birds;
- small rodents (field mice);
- raccoon dogs;
- occasionally small ungulates: roe deer, musk deer, reindeer and spotted deer;
- rarely domestic cats and dogs.
The lynx hunts, contrary to all ideas about it, without jumping on the victim from a tree, and watching her on the ground. Ambush — here is a favorite method of hunting for a cat. She also likes to sneak up to the victim as close as possible, and then rush at her with lightning speed, so to speak, to hide her. The lynx can hide behind stumps, trunks of fallen trees, and it attacks, making huge jumps, 4 m long.
She does not pursue her prey for long, as soon as she runs 60-80 m, the cat runs out of steam. But this is often enough to grab a gaping animal. If the attack fails, the enraged lynx will make a couple more jumps in pursuit and stop. Sometimes a predator kills small furry animals just like that, for fun.
It strikes a large victim in the front part of the body, clings to the throat or neck with claws, bringing excruciating pain to the animal. A wounded animal can drag a cat on itself for some time, until it runs out of steam. The lynx does not eat much meat at a time, it hides most of the meat in reserve.
Thus, a killed adult roe deer is enough for 4 days, a reindeer — for almost two weeks, and the hare — just for 2-3 days. Cats are not very good at hiding prey; they hastily sprinkle it with snow and foliage. Therefore, small animals often take it away before the cat itself returns to feast on the remnants of the feast.
Character and lifestyle features
Lynx — this is a night hunter. She hides during daylight hours, and when night falls, she leaves her hiding place. As a place to rest, the lynx often chooses other people's holes, fox or badger. If they are not available, any crevice in the rock, a hole, a branch of a tall tree, or an impenetrable thicket will do. The lynx approaches the place of its bed carefully so as not to leave traces, it jumps there from afar, thus imitating its absence.
This animal survives well in the snow, if there is enough prey. Due to its spotted coat, the lynx can easily hide in the crowns of trees at dusk or at dawn. The play of sun glare allows the predator to disguise its bright fur from prey.
Lynx — the animal is cautious, but she is not too afraid of people. Often she settles in secondary forests created by human hand. In famine years, the cat even comes to villages and small towns. The predator does not attack people only if she is injured or protects kittens. Although she can cause significant harm, because she has powerful claws and jaws.
The lynx is considered a harmful predator, although, like a wolf, on the contrary, it benefits by killing sick and weak animals. Russian zoologists claim that there are no known cases of lynx attacks on people. And this is surprising, because an adult male can easily tear apart a trained shepherd dog, which is twice as heavy as him.
According to all physical data, a lynx may well attack a person, but does not. On the contrary, there were cases when the lynx was easily tamed by humans. Being rescued from a trap, cats became so familiar with people that they willingly walked into their arms and purred with the roar of a motor.
Social structure and reproduction
The lifestyle of lynxes is solitary. However, at the end of February, the rutting period begins, and all individuals begin to look for a company. Usually silent cats begin to meow a lot, purr and squeal. During estrus, several males can follow the female at once. Which often provokes violent fights between them.
When a female chooses a mate, they begin to show signs of attention to each other: when they meet, they “butt” their foreheads, sniff their noses. But the biggest show of affection — it's licking your partner's fur. In the den, where the lynxes will soon appear, the bottom is carefully lined. For this, the female uses bird feathers, ungulate hair and dry grass.
Pregnancy is short — only 60-70 days, at the end of April — May the brood appears. Usually 2-3 kittens are born, weighing 250-300 g each. They are deaf and blind. All worries about offspring — mother's business. She makes sure that they are warm, cleans the litter, licks and feeds the lynxes, drives predators away from the nest.
For two months, babies feed on mother's milk, and after this period they have teeth. After that, they can already pat the meat that the mother brings, but milk still continues to play an important role in their diet. At three months, the babies leave the nest and go everywhere with the female.
Kittens at this time still do not quite look like their mother. Their fur is light brown, with a small amount of specks. And they will have tassels and sideburns only by the age of one and a half years. The family will be inseparable until the next rutting period. Then she herself will leave the lynxes, but they will still stay together for some time.
If pregnancy does not occur next year, the female can live with the kittens all this year until they will not become fully grown. Lynx reach sexual maturity at 1.5-2 years. And the life expectancy in general for a cat is about 15 years. In captivity, they can live up to 25 years.
Lynx natural enemies
Except for humans, which has been engaged in the extermination of the lynx for many years, it also has natural enemies.
First of all, these are all other large cats:
- Canadian lynxes.
In winter, especially in famine years, a pack of wolves poses a significant danger to a lonely cat. They surround their prey and ruthlessly tear them to shreds. If the lynx meets the wolf one on one, she has every chance to defeat him, but she is powerless against the whole pack.
In a battle for prey, a lynx can be defeated in a fight with a tiger or a snow leopard. They can enter into a fight with her for the prey already killed by the cat, and often the lynx flees in such situations. For the same reasons, wolverines are considered her enemy. Although the animals are small, they are very annoying to the cat, they are able to drive away a larger predator from their own prey.
But small lynxes can become the prey of literally any predator that is larger than them. Not only foxes, wolves and other cats try to climb into the family nest, but also bears. However, the female rarely leaves her kittens, she fiercely protects them from any uninvited guests.
Population and species status
Lynx — this is a long-standing object of the fur trade, the thirst for its valuable fur still excites the hearts of poachers and hunters. For centuries, the skins of these noble cats have been used for hats and fur coats. Yes, and people did not like lynxes, despite the fact that they rarely touched pets, as well as the people themselves. All this led to total extermination.
In many European countries, the common lynx — rare view. Even despite the protection and attempts to restore this geographical race, it is endangered. This species is listed in the Moscow Red Book, it was awarded the 1st degree. Since near the southern border of the Moscow region, this animal is on the verge of extinction.
However, in general, lynx is found quite often in Russia. In other countries, the situation is completely different. There are only a few dozen individuals on the Balkan Peninsula. In Germany, the Bavarian Forest and the Harz were recolonized by these animals in the early 20th century.
The largest population, except for the Siberian one, is located on the territory of the Carpathians. There are about 2200 individuals. In Belarus, 1,000 lynxes live in Belovezhskaya Pushcha and the Tatras. Almost 2500 animals are found on the Scandinavian Peninsula. In France, lynxes were also exterminated and in 1900 they were reintroduced to the Pyrenees and Vosges. Switzerland was repopulated by the lynx in 1915, and from there they spread to Austria and Slovenia.
The number of predatory cats is declining not only due to mechanical extermination, but also due to the destruction of their habitats: deforestation, extermination of game.
Measures to preserve the lynx population are:
- Strict regulations for hunting these animals;
- Preservation of biotopes in their original form;
- Care for the conservation of its food resources: hares, roe deer;
- Reducing the number of wolves flocks;
- Actively combating poaching by loops that lynxes often fall into.
A graceful long-legged animal, the lynx, attracts attention and fascinates. No wonder in ancient times it was a totem animal among the Slavs. Some sources even talk about the similarity of the words “lynx” and “Rus”. In Gomel, this forest cat is still the main symbol of the city. Dangerous and fast, but not without grace and grace, this cat is of great scientific interest. Save such a beautiful animal and increase its population — this is the first task of man today.