On this edition of Amanda's Zoo Crew we learn about a rare animal native to northern Minnesota, the Canada Lynx.
"They live more in Northern Minnesota so for us here in Southeast Minnesota, we don't see them," said Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo Naturalist Clarissa Schrooten. "They're not technically nocturnal but they do wait until it's darker to do their hunting. Then when they're hunting they're looking for small mammals so any kind of moles, shrews, mice, gophers but the big part of their diet is actually snowshoe hares. When the snowshoe hare population in Minnesota declines, so does the lynx population. They just ebb and flow together because they are so reliant on that snowshoe hare."
The lynx was built to survive and thrive in the cold and snow.
"They have huge paws and then they splay out and almost have kind of a fur connection in their so they are almost like a snowshoe and that keeps them afloat in the deep snows," said Schrooten. "Then you can see on their ears they have those ear tufts on top, that also helps them with their hunting because they can hear better with those. The vibration off of sounds can go into their ears better. So it peaks their ears a little better. A fun fact about lynx is they have a light colored eyes. The term lynx actually means light eyes."
The lynx is closely related to the bobcat, but there are some ways to tell the two apart.
"They're both a small feline here in Minnesota but one big difference is its tail length is actually 4 inches where they say the bobcat is only three," said Schrooten. "You can see those taller ear tufts, that's a big distinction. The bobcat has black and white stripes on the backs of their ears where the lynx doesn't. The lynx, when it stands, it's hind legs are going to look longer than it's front legs, so that's another distinction. They are slightly larger, a lynx can be anywhere between 22 to 44 pounds. Where as a bobcat reaches 35 at a max.
Lynx are considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
"Well right now they are on a protected status," said Schrooten. "For a while there back in the 60s, 70s and 80s they were trapped. They were used for trapping. They have beautiful fur and it was trapped for that. They are expensive furs, up to 600 dollars back in the 70s and 80s, that's a lot of money. But they were over trapped. So 1984 is when they first went on the protection statuses and they've stayed there ever since."
For more information on the Lynx head to the DNR, NWF or Defenders.