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Big Cats - Lynx

( Originally Published 1936 )

The Lynx is found in all the continents of the World except Australia and South America. The common European Lynx is the largest species, measuring sometimes as much as forty inches in length, including its short tail. The colour varies in different individuals, but is usually of a pale or rufous (reddish) colour, covered more or less thickly with spots. The ears are tufted, and the hair around the neck is developed into long whiskers, somewhat after the manner of the tiger's ruff. See Plate 13, Fig. 6i.

The two well-defined species of Lynx found in North America are the Canada Lynx and the Red or Bay Lynx. The Canadian is distinguished from the other by its much longer fur and very large, round feet, which undoubtedly serve it as snowshoes in tracking prey through the snow of the region in which it lives. The colour is a beautiful silver-grey, tipped with black, the tufts on the ears black, and there are a few bars of black hair in the whiskers at the sides of the head. The nose is exceedingly short, and the eyes are very large and catlike in construction.

The Red or Bay Lynx inhabits the more southern portions of North America, and is about as large as its northern relative, though it does not give the impression of being so on account of the shorter fur and much smaller feet. The ears also are less tufted, and the whiskers are not so distinct in character, and the fur is covered more or less thickly with spots.

All Lynxes climb easily, and when pursued by hunters and dogs will always take refuge in trees, from which they are dislodged with difficulty. They are rather bold and courageous when pressed, and can use their paws with lightning-like quickness in en-counters with dogs and other animals. In general disposition and method of hunting, the two species closely resemble each other. Having very long legs, the Lynx hunts its prey in a more dog-like fashion than is usual with cats, and will often track another animal a considerable distance before springing. It usually prefers more or less open country, though Florida Lynxes are found in the thick palmetto scrub of that region.

This creature is known under many names in the United States, the most common, perhaps, being Cat-amount and Wild Cat. The cry is a piercing scream much like that of the puma.

As a captive animal, the Lynx is rather uninteresting, being timid and averse to exercise, and growling and snarling at visitors when approached. They differ in character, as do other cats, some being gentle and others extremely savage and untamable. They have not nearly so much intelligence as the leopard, and on the whole are a somewhat quiet and undemonstrative cat.

In Africa and India are found two species of cats, which, while they cannot be called lynxes, resemble them in form and proportions. The Caracal (Felis caracal), which is found in portions of Africa and India, is a fawn-coloured, unspotted cat, somewhat like the puma, with the usual tufted ears, short tail, and long legs of the lynxes. In habits it resembles other members of the genus, capturing and killing small mammals and birds. The Serval (Felis serval), while it has very long legs and small feet, is without the tufts at the tip of the ears. This beautiful cat has a light-greyish body colour covered with dark brown spots. The tail, though not as short as that of some of the lynxes, rarely exceeds six inches in length. The Serval is found in thick and bushy country, as a rule, and is perhaps more of a ground animal than any of the lynxes. It leaps upon its prey, and strikes it down with a single blow.

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