The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Armadillo
Story Of The Lynx
Story Of The Elephant
Story Of The Leopard
Story Of The Reindeer
Story Of The Coyote
Story Of The Wild Sheep
Story Of The Mungoose
Story Of The Zebra
Story Of The Yak
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Story Of The Lynx
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
In my various travels I have met and studied no less than twenty species of lynx. The true lynx, that makes its home in Europe and northern Africa, is the best representative of the general class, but the American species have many similar characteristics.
The body is always marked with small black spots during the summer. In some instances, perhaps in young animals only, these spots continue during the winter. This, however, appears to occur only among the lynxes of Europe; those of Asia having the winter dress without spots, except on the flanks and limbs, while they may be also wanting there. The hairs of the fur vary in color in different parts of their length, and are tipped with black. The ears are gray on the outsides, with black margins, tips, and tufts. Occasionally the under-parts of the body are spotted. The length of a full-grown lynx is thirty-three inches, exclusive of the tail, which measures only seven and three-quarters inches; but the length of the head and body may be upwards of forty inches.
When taken young, the lynx can be easily tamed. I saw a full-grown tame Thibetan lynx in the possession of the governor of Ladak, in Leh, and another in Calcutta. Both specimens were very playful, although the former would occasionally be somewhat too free with its claws. It displayed marvellous agility in capturing the half-wild pigeons which abound in Leh.
In Ladak, where the lynx is a rare Animal, but seldom seen by Europeans, its chief food appears to consist of the blue hares which occur in swarms in many of the higher valleys. One summer when shooting at a high elevation near Hanle, in Spiti, I suddenly came upon a female lynx with two cubs. I shot the mother, and as the cubs concealed themselves among some rocks, I barricaded them in, and went on with my hunting. On arriving in camp, I sent back men to try and catch the cubs; in this they succeeded, and brought them back to me. They were about the size of half-grown cats, and more spiteful, vicious little devils cannot be imagined; they were, however, very handsome, with immense heads and paws. For two or three days they refused all food, but at the end of that time they fed quite ravenously from the hand.
The Canada lynx is a native of North America, and is remarkable for its gait. Its method of progression is by bounds from all four feet at once, with the back arched. It feeds principally on the American hare, as it is not courageous enough to attack the larger quadrupeds. Its length is about three feet. The Indians sometimes eat its flesh, which is white and firm, and not unlike that of the American hare itself. Its skin forms an important article of commerce, and between seven and nine thousand are exported annually by the Hudson's Bay Company.
The pardine or Southern European lynx is, perhaps, the handsomest representative of the entire group, its fur being distinctly spotted at all seasons of the year. The color of the body is yellowish above, and white beneath; the rounded black spots occurring on the body, tail and limbs. From the examination of the skin alone I regard this animal merely as a southern spotted variety of the common lynx, analogous to the spotted and banded southern varieties of the American bay lynx. An examination of the skull showed, however, some differences from that of the northern lynx.
This lynx is found in Europe in Spain, Sicily, Sardinia, Greece and Turkey. Its habits are probably very similar to those of the northern species.
The foxy-colored cat known as the caracal is a species of lynx, and agrees with the latter in its long limbs, penciled ears, and the characters of its teeth; but in its longer tail, absence of a ruff round the throat, and less close and thick fur, it resembles the caffre-cat. The transition from the typical cats to the lynxes is, therefore, complete. The caracal is sometimes called the desert lynx.
In addition to its long limbs it is characterized by its slender build, the length of the tail being equal to one-third of that of the hind leg and body, and by the long tufts of black hair surmounting the long ears. The length of the head and body varies from 26 to 30 inches, and that of the tail from 9 to io inches; the height at the shoulder being from 16 to 18 inches.
This species is sometimes known as the Persian, and at others as the red lynx, but the latter name is properly applied to a North American variety of the true lynx. Although a rare animal everywhere, the caracal is spread over the greater part of India, with the exception of Bengal, the Malabar coast, and the Eastern Himalaya. It is unknown to the eastward of the Bay of Bengal, but towards the southwest it is found in Mesopotamia, and perhaps the Persian highlands. It is also found in Arabia; and over a large portion of Africa it is the sole representative of the lynxes.
We have little or no information as to the habits of the caracal in Africa, and only a scant record of its mode of life in India. I know, however, that it dwells among grass and bushes, rather than in forests. Its prey consists largely of gazelles, the smaller species of deer, hares, pea-fowl, florican, cranes, and other birds; and so active is the creature, that it has the power of springing up and capturing birds on the wing at a height of five or six feet above the ground. The caracal is easily tamed, and in some parts of India is trained to capture several of the animals mentioned above as forming its natural prey. It is a favorite amusement among the natives to let loose a couple of tame caracals among a flock of pigeons feeding on the ground, when each of them will strike down as many as ten birds before the flock can escape. It is believed that the expression "lnyx-eyed" owes its origin to this species.