Paws Like Snowshoes – Why the Lynx Thrives Through Canadian Winters.

He sat on a boulder looking fierce and formidable. He seemed to be announcing his powerful status of being at the top of the food chain. He sniffed the air, ear tufts bristling and yellow green eyes narrowing. The beautiful Canada Lynx crouched like a coiled spring getting ready to ambush his prey. 

The Canada Lynx tend up in higher regions, there has been footage of them at Big White, and are wide spread right across BC. The fur is grey in the winter and turns into a mottled blend of grey and brown in the summer.  During the winter months, the lynxes’ very big paws work like snowshoes giving them an advantage over other predators.  The Canada Lynx is often confused with the bobcat, yet it can be distinguished by its long black ear tufts, sloped spine (from long back legs), flared facial ruff, short tail and its taller stature.

Interestingly, the ear tufts have a similar sensory purpose as the whiskers; they can feel the slightest change in the wind. It is thought that the tufts can detect structures above the head.  Like the bobcat and mountain lion, the Canada Lynx are elusive and are not at all common to see in the wild. 

The lynx hunt at night relying on their keen sense of hearing and sight. The lynx will ambush rather than chase their prey. The Snowshoe Hare makes up about three quarters of the wild cat’s food intake.  Lynx will also eat grouse, squirrels, foxes, voles, mice, carrion and even a deer. The lynx must hunt and catch at least fifty voles to equal the calories of one hare, this burns a lot of their much-needed energy. Some threats include:  starvation (when there is drop in Snowshoe Hare numbers), unsustainable trapping, and extensive logging. 

Physical Details:

  • length 30 – 42 inches
  • tail 2 – 5 inches
  • height 24 – 26 inches 
  • weight 13 – 29 lbs

 

It is fascinating to watch and learn about our wild neighbours.  Why not get out and hike more often with the family.

 

– Article by Flora McLeod