Lynx
Felis lynx

Photo: Female lynx and her young kitten

Lynxes are known for the black tufts of fur on the tips of their ears and their thick fur.


National Geographic is working to avert the big cats' extinction with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects with quick results for saving big cats, anti-poaching programs, projects that test new technology and more.

Photograph by Norbert Rosing
Map: Locator map for the lynx
 Lynx range

Fast Facts

Type: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore
Size: Head and body, 32 to 40 in (80 to 100 cm); Tail, 4 to 8 in (10 to 20 cm)
Weight: 22 to 44 lbs (10 to 20 kg)

The lynx is a solitary cat that haunts the remote northern forests of North America, Europe, and Asia. Lynx are covered with beautiful thick fur that keeps them warm during frigid winters. Their large paws are also furry and hit the ground with a spreading toe motion that makes them function as natural snowshoes.

These stealthy cats avoid humans and hunt at night, so they are rarely seen.

There are several species of lynx. Few survive in Europe but those that do, like their Asian relatives, are typically larger than their North American counterpart, the Canada lynx.

All lynx are skilled hunters that make use of great hearing (the tufts on their ears are a hearing aid) and eyesight so strong that a lynx can spot a mouse 250 feet (75 meters) away.

Canada lynx eat mice, squirrels, and birds, but prefer the snowshoe hare. The lynx are so dependent on this prey that their populations fluctuate with a periodic plunge in snowshoe hare numbers that occurs about every 10 years. Bigger Eurasian lynx hunt deer and other larger prey in addition to small animals.

Lynx mate in early spring or late winter. About two months later, females give birth to a litter of one to four young.

Humans sometimes hunt lynx for their beautiful fur. One endangered population, the Iberian lynx, struggles to survive in the mountains of Spain, far from the cold northern forests where most lynx live.