Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Canada Lynx

(Lynx canadensis)

Habitat and Distribution: Found in dense undergrowth in boreal forests of Canada, Alaska, and the northern United States.

Size: 2-3 feet long; 17-35 pounds

Wild Diet: Primarily snowshoe hares; also voles, mice, squirrels, grouse, fish, foxes and occasionally carrion

Predators: Humans; young kittens may be vulnerable to wolves and bears.

Lifespan: 10-15 years

Reproduction: Canada lynx are sexually mature between 10 and 23 months, depending on food availability. They mate between February and April. Females deliver 1-8 kittens after a 9-10 week gestation. They stay with their mother for about a year, learning how to hunt, and may stay with their siblings for a while after separating from their mother.

Behavior: Canada lynx are mostly nocturnal, sleeping during the day under rock ledges, fallen trees, or shrubs. They are thought to be primarily solitary but maintain overlapping territories. They may hunt by actively pursuing prey but are more likely to sit and wait for a chance to ambush. This is usually a solitary activity, though a mother will hunt cooperatively with her cubs. Kills may be eaten immediately or stored under snow or leaves for later consumption.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Canada lynx populations have been pushed north due to trapping, timber cutting, decreased vegetation and human settlement. They have also historically been hunted for their fur. However, they are still widespread throughout their range, and effective management of trapping and fur trading has allowed their populations to remain stable.

In the contiguous United States, the Canada Lynx is classified as "threatened" by the Endangered Species Act.

Did you know?

  • Many aspects of the Canada lynx lifestyle—including litter size, territory range, and life expectancy—are controlled by snowshoe hare populations.
  • They will eat carcasses left behind by human hunters.