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Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx)

Eurasian lynx ( Lynx lynx )

Superordinate : Laurasiatheria
Order : Predators (Carnivora)
Subordination : Feline (Feliformia)
Family : Cats (Felidae)
Subfamily : Small cats (Felinae)
Genre : Lynxes
Scientific name
Kerr , 1792

The lynx ( Lynx ) is a genus in the family of cats . All four species living today are found in the northern hemisphere: The Eurasian lynx is found in large parts of Europe and Asia; of the Iberian Peninsula limited Iberian lynx is one of the most affected by the extinction of endangered cat species; Canadian lynx (also Canada lynx ) and bobcat live in North America .

In terms of their tribal history, lynxes are one of the small cats , but apart from a few surviving leopards in the Caucasus , they are the largest cats in Europe ; the only other European cat species is the European wildcat . The name lynx goes back to the Old and Middle High German luhs , which means sparkler and refers to the reflective cat's eyes. Lynx is the Latin word for lynx .


Depending on the species, lynxes reach head-to-trunk lengths of around 70 to 120 centimeters, shoulder heights of 36 to 70 centimeters and tail lengths of ten to 25 centimeters; they weigh about seven to 37 kilograms. The smallest species is the bobcat, the largest the Eurasian lynx. Lynxes have whiskers; the tips of the ears wear black hairbrushes; the back of the ears is black, often with a more or less extensive white or gray-white spot. The fur color is also variable within the species and ranges from sand-colored to reddish brown and brown to gray, often the fur is spotted; the tail end is black. The pattern of spots is individually different and therefore allows individual animals to be recognized.

Canadian lynxes in particular have large paws that make it easier for them to walk over snow. Like almost all cat species, lynxes can retract their claws into skin pockets. Lynxes usually have 28 teeth; with a small percentage of individual lynxes, an additional molar can be formed on one or both sides of the lower jaw. In the wild, lynxes only live a few years on average, Eurasian lynxes around five years old; the maximum age in the field was determined to be twelve (bobcat) to 17 years (Eurasian lynx). In captivity, lynxes lived no more than 24 (Eurasian lynx) to 32 years (bobcat).

Habitat and behavior

Canadian lynx

Lynx inhabit very different habitats: mainly forests, but also deserts, tundras , swamps, bushland, grasslands and rocky regions; the Eurasian lynx occurs in the mountains up to 5500 meters above sea level. Lynx prey on mammals, especially lagomorphs and rodents, as well as ungulates up to red deer size, as well as birds, fish and reptiles; occasionally they eat carrion. Lynx night and mainly crepuscular loner who their prey ambush , is stalking them or actively pursue.

The average sizes of roaming areas range from about 16 square kilometers (female bobcat) to 248 square kilometers (male Eurasian lynx); in extreme cases, roaming areas range from less than one (bobcat) to over 1000 square kilometers (Eurasian lynx). The roaming areas of females can overlap, but adult lynxes tend to avoid each other . Males in particular behave territorially : They create territories and defend them against conspecifics of the same sex. Adult animals can fight to the death in territorial disputes. The sizes of grazing areas and hunting grounds vary depending on the food supply and the state of the population . The division of space between the lynx is maintained with scent marks.

Hollow tree trunks, thickets and crevices serve as hiding places and throwing places. Female lynxes give birth to a litter with usually two to four young once a year. Sex partners and mother and young animals also communicate with each other with calls (with the Eurasian lynx a melodic, far-reaching 'ma-uu').


Lynx are threatened by direct human persecution because they are viewed as competitors by hunters and ranchers, in many regions also because of their fur. They also suffer from the fragmentation and destruction of their habitats, among other things due to the intensification of agriculture and forestry, and sometimes also from disruption from leisure activities. Other man-made dangers for lynxes are road and rail traffic, attacks by domestic dogs and the use of rodenticides . Natural enemies, especially for young lynx, include attacks from large predators such as wolves and bears. The World Conservation Union IUCN classified the Iberian lynx in 2014 as "critically endangered" (Endangered) , which global stocks of the three other Lynx species were in 2014 or 2016 as "not at risk" (Least Concern) .


Distribution area of ​​the lynx. Orange: Eurasian lynx; purple: Canadian lynx; green: bobcat; red: Iberian lynx (map not up to date)

The Eurasian lynx originally settled in a largely closed range from the Pyrenees in the west to the Pacific in the east and from the Arctic Circle to China; in large parts of this area it has been eradicated, but has been naturalized again in some European regions. The Iberian lynx was originally probably spread over the entire Iberian Peninsula , but today its occurrence is limited to small, isolated populations in southern Spain. The Canadian lynx lives in the boreal zone in Alaska and Canada, in the south its range extends to some of the continental United States . The bobcat is widespread from southern Canada via the USA to Mexico.


According to a publication by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation , a total of 135 wild Eurasian lynxes were counted across Germany in 2018. In the previous year there were 114 animals. Two priority areas were identified: one in Eastern Bavaria , a second stretching from the Harz Mountains to North Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia. The observers were able to record offspring in 20 females in 2018, eleven of them in the Harz Mountains , eight in the Bavarian Forest and one in the Palatinate Forest . The reintroduction of the long-extinct animal species was achieved through reintroduction projects and immigration from neighboring countries. The BUND called for increased efforts to preserve the species, which is still considered to be highly endangered. The most important measures would be: to create more animal crossing aids on roads and to pursue illegal killings more consistently.


The following types are known:

In older literature, the first three species mentioned are sometimes combined into a single species, the "northern lynx". The caracal is sometimes referred to as the "desert lynx," but it belongs to a different genus of cats. It has not yet been conclusively clarified whether the lynx originated in North America or in Eurasia and Africa. Fossil finds prove representatives of this genus for the Pleistocene .

Relationships of cats according to O'Brien & Johnson 2008.

  Small cats  

 Manul  ( Otocolobus manul )


 Old World Wildcats  ( Felis )


 Cheetah ( acinonyx )


 Pumas ( Puma )


 Lynx ( Lynx )


 Leopard cats ( leopardus )


 Karakal ( caracal )


 Serval ( Leptailurus )



  Big cats  





 Saber-toothed cats (Machairodontinae)

Template: Klade / Maintenance / Style

Web links

Commons : Lynx ( Lynx )  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Luchs  - Sources and full texts
Wikisource: The Panther of Europe  - Sources and full texts


  • PETERSEN et al. (Ed.): The European system of protected areas Natura 2000. Ecology and distribution of species of the FFH directive in Germany. Volume 2: Vertebrates. published in the series for landscape care and nature conservation as issue 69/2 Landwirtschaftsverlag, Münster-Hiltrup 2004, ISBN 3-7843-3620-5 .
  • Mel Sunquist, Fiona Sunquist: Wild Cats of the World. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2002, ISBN 0-226-77999-8 .

Individual evidence

  1. Duden - German Universal Dictionary, 3rd revised edition. Mannheim, Leipzig, Vienna, Zurich: Dudenverlag 1996.
  2. a b c d David L. Fox; Tiffany Murphy: Lynx canadensis on the Animal Diversity Web of the University of Michigan's Museum of Zoology. 2002. Accessed February 5, 2019.
  3. Tor Kvam: Supernumerary teeth in the European lynx, Lynx lynx lynx, and their evolutionary significance. In: Journal of Zoology . Vol. 206, No. 1, 1985, pp. 17-22, doi: 10.1111 / j.1469-7998.1985.tb05632.x .
  4. a b c H. Foster: Lynx lynx on the Animal Diversity Web of the University of Michigan's Museum of Zoology. 2010. Accessed: February 5, 2019.
  5. a b D. Ciszek: Lynx rufus in the Animal Diversity Web of the Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan. 2002. Accessed February 5, 2019.
  6. ^ A b C. Johnson: Lynx pardinus in the Animal Diversity Web of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan. 2011. Accessed: February 5, 2019.
  7. ^ S. Aulagnier, P. Haffner, AJ Mitchell-Jones, F. Moutou, J. Zima: The mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East - The destination guide. Haupt Verlag; Bern, Stuttgart, Vienna, 2009: p. 132. ISBN 978-3-258-07506-8 .
  8. a b c M. Kelly; D. Morin; CA Lopez-Gonzalez: Lynx rufus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016 . Accessed: February 5, 2019.
  9. a b c J. Vashon: Lynx canadensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016 . Accessed: February 5, 2019.
  10. a b c U. Breitenmoser; C. Breitenmoser sausages; T. Lanz; M. von Arx, A. Antonevich; W. Bao; B. Avgan: Lynx lynx (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015 . Accessed: February 5, 2019.
  11. a b c A. Rodríguez; J. Calzada: Lynx pardinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015 . Accessed: February 5, 2019.
  12. KORA. Retrieved March 17, 2018 .
  13. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation: More lynxes in the forests ,, published and accessed June 5, 2019
  14. Mel Sunquist, Fiona Sunquist: Wild Cats of the World. P. 153.
  15. Stephen J. O'Brien, Warren E. Johnson: The New Pedigree of Cats. Spectrum of Science, Edition 6/08, Spectrum of Science, Publishing Company Ltd, Heidelberg, pp. 54–61.