Lynx, a carnivorous mammal, usually arranged with the cats, but differing from the genus felis in wanting the small upper premolar next the canine, the dentition being - incisors |, canines 1/1-1/1, and molars 3/3-3/3=28. The head is short and arched; jaws short; ears short, erect, and more or less tufted; fore feet with five toes, and hind feet with four, with retractile nails; tail as long as or shorter than the head, and truncated at the tip; body short and stout. There are certain differences in the skull also, which justify a separation from felis, and the acceptance of the genus lynx (Raf.). The largest American species is the Canada lynx (L. Canadensis, Geoffr.), the loup cervier of the Canadians; it is about as large as a setter dog, or 3 ft. long to the base of the tail, the latter being 6 in. to the end of the hair; the triangular ears have an erect tuft of coarse black hairs; the general color is gray above with darker clouds, and lighter beneath; the feet very large, with naked pads underneath, densely furred in winter, and then making a track in the snow 9 in. long and almost as large as that of a black bear; the eyes large, nose obtuse, ears with a narrow margin of black, whiskers stiff and chiefly white; in summer the fur is shorter and more rufous.
This lynx lives in the deepest woods, rarely approaching the habitations of man, and is most abundant in the regions north of the great lakes, its thick fur enabling it to resist the greatest cold; it is very strong and active, an excellent climber, and a good swimmer. It breeds once a year, having generally two whelps at a time. Its flesh is eaten by Indians and hungry trappers, and its fur is prized for robes, muffs, collars, etc.; it is most often caught in steel traps, which it readily enters. It feeds principally on grouse and birds of similar size, on rabbits and other northern rodents; when hard pressed it will attack as large an animal as a deer, and sometimes prowls about the pioneer's cabin in search of lambs, pigs, and poultry. It rarely descends into the New England and middle states, but is found principally from Canada to lat. 66° N., to the east of the Rocky mountains. - The bay lynx, or American wild cat (lynx rufus, Guld.), is 30 in. long, and the tail 5 1/2 in.; the weight about 17 lbs.
The general color is reddish brown in autumn and winter, and ashy brown in spring and summer; the tail is nearly as long as the head, with its extremity on the upper surface black, tipped with more or less white; there is a whitish spot on the hinder part of the ear, bordered with black. The soles of the feet are naked, and the ears are not tufted as in the Canada lynx; the latter animal is also considerably the larger. The wild cat is a cowardly animal, rarely attacking any quadruped larger than a hare or a young pig; it commits considerable havoc among the chickens and other poultry in its neighborhood, and among quails, partridges, and such birds as it can surprise. It shows an affinity to the domestic cat by mewing and purring when in confinement; in the woods, during the winter, its caterwauling may be heard for a long distance; it no doubt is occasionally crossed by the domestic species in wild localities. There are varieties of this in Texas and Mexico and on the Pacific coast, described as L. maculatus (Aud. and Bach.) and L. fasciatus (Raf.). - The European lynx (felis lynx, Linn.) is about the size of the Canada species, but the color is deeper rufous with more distinct brownish spots; the hair is shorter, and the tail longer, more tufted, with the terminal half black.
It is spread over southern Europe and Asia, and furnishes a considerable quantity of valuable fur for robes and coverings; its physiognomy is much less ferocious than that of the cats of the same size.
The booted or marsh lynx (L. caligatus, Temm.) is smaller than the preceding species, with a longer tail; the color is bluish gray, with indistinct transverse blackish bands, reddish below, the long ears tipped with a blackish pencil, and a large patch of black on the leg extending nearly to the first joint (whence the common name of this species), and the tail black at the end, with two or three rings of black and white above this. The chaus is probably a variety; both are found in Asia and northern Africa. The caracal (L. caracal, Linn.; genus caracala, Gray) is of a vinous red color, whitish below and around the head and throat; it is about 2 1/2 ft. long and 20 in. high; the ears are very long, and tufted. This is the animal called lynx by the ancients, supposed by them to possess a wonderful power of sight, and said to have been kept and trained for the chase like the hunting leopard (F.jubata, Schreber); there is no such faculty in the modern animal, which is very restless and suspicious in confinement. It possesses the activity and carnivorous propensities of its congeners, pursuing its prey, whether bird or quadruped, into trees.
According to Temminck, this species hunts in packs like dogs, tracing prey by the scent, and also eats the leavings of the lion and larger carnivora; these dog-like habits may indicate the lynx as one of the animals connecting the cats with the dogs. It is found in Asia and Africa. Other species are described.