The Eurasian lynx is the biggest of the lynxes, ranging in length from 80 to 130 cm and standing about 70 cm at the shoulder. The tail measures 15 to 25 cm in length. Males usually weigh from 18-30 kg and females weigh 18 kg on average.
Male lynxes from Siberia are reported to be the largest, and can weigh up to 38 kg.
Throughout Europe and Siberia, lynx are associated primarily with forested areas which have good ungulate populations. In Central Asia lynx occur in more open, thinly wooded areas. Lynx are found throughout the rocky hills and mountains of the Central Asian desert regions.
The Eurasian lynx is the largest lynx, and the only one to primarily take ungulate prey, although they rely on smaller prey where ungulates are less abundant. In European Russia and western Siberia, where roe deer are absent, mountain hares and grouses form the basic prey base. Hares and birds are important prey also in other Central Asian regions where habitats are dryer and less forested.
Lynx kill ungulates ranging in size from the 15 kg musk deer to 220 kg adult male red deer, but show a preference for the smallest ungulate species in the community.
Lynx densities are typically 1-3 adults per 100 km², although higher densities of up to 5/100 km² have been reported from eastern Europe and parts of Russia.
Mating takes place from February to mid-April and birth takes place after 67-74 days, usually in late May. Litter size varies from 1-5, but most often, 2-3 kittens are born. A newborn lynx cub weighs about 300 g. Kittens follow their mother until the next mating season.
Females are sexually mature at the age of two years, whereas males usually mate for the first time at three years old. In nature, females reproduced at least until 14 years and males until 16-17 years.
Lynx are reported to live up to 17 years in the wild, whereas in captivity they can reach an age of 25 years. The medium age of resident animals in a population however is much lower, about 4-5 years.
The European lynx population (excluding Russia) has been estimated at 8,000. Populations in central and southern Europe are small and fragmented, although there are larger populations in Fennoscandia and the Baltic states. Lynx in Europe occur in ten distinct subpopulations.
The lynx's stronghold is a broad strip of southern Siberian woodland stretching through eastern Russia from the Ural mountains to the Pacific, and the Russian lynx population has been estimated at 30,000-35,000. Although large portions of its range lie in China, status there is poorly known, and the government considers the population to be decreasing. While lynx presence in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia is uncertain, in the country of Mongolia the lynx population is estimated at 10,000.
The population estimate for the Eurasian lynx throughout its Eurasian range is approximately 48,000-53,000 individuals.
See table below for breakdown by country.
In a survey of 37 lynx range state governments, 30% considered their national populations to be decreasing, 35% stable, 14% stable to slightly increasing, 16% increasing, and 8% unknown. According to the IUCN, globally, Eurasian lynx numbers are stable.
The Eurasian lynx was once common throughout most of Europe, Central and Northern Asia. In Europe, however, the Eurasian Lynx has probably always been absent from some of the larger islands such as Ireland and Sicily and from areas with few forests. It was also absent from the Iberian Peninsula, where the smaller Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) occurs.
The Eurasian lynx has a very broad distribution from western Europe through the boreal forests of Russia, and down into central Asia and the Tibetan plateau. The bulk of its historic range from Fennoscandia through Russia and Central Asia is largely intact, but lynx have been extirpated from most of western Europe and remaining populations are generally small and widely separated. In central Europe, they survive only in the Carpathian Mountains and a small area of the southern Dinaric Mountains in Greece, Macedonia and Albania.
Lynx have been released in several areas of Europe in an effort to reintroduce this elusive predator including in Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany and France.
While China and Russia had annual commercial exports of thousands of skins in the 1970s and 1980s, this trade has ended in recent years. However, illegal skin trade remains the leading threat to the species, together with habitat loss and prey base depletion.
Please email photos and figures that may be used in further publications to info at largeherbivore dot org
To illustrate this webpage (and for the sake of the protection of these animals) we have made use of photos of which it is not always clear who is the possessor of the credits and rights. If you feel yourself infringed in your rights or if you know the source of a photo, please let us know.