Bobcat or Canada Lynx?

Have you ever wondered how to tell a bobcat from a Canada lynx? There are two lynx species native to […]

Have you ever wondered how to tell a bobcat from a Canada lynx? There are two lynx species native to North America: Bobcat (Lynx rufus) and Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). Both belong to the same genus but are different species. They are thought to have evolved from the Issoire lynx, an animal that lived in the early Pleistocene period. The bobcat is the most common native wildcat here in the United States. We have 22 bobcats here at Turpentine Creek! 


The ranges of bobcats and Canada lynx differ. Bobcats are found in the United States, Southern Canada, and Northern Mexico, while Canada lynx are found in Alaska, Canada, and small fragments of the continental United States. Their ranges do overlap, so there are instances where proper identification of the lynx species is necessary. Generally, however, here in the United States, it is much more common to spot a bobcat in the wild than a Canada lynx. Bobcats and Canada Lynx live in grassland, shrubland, and forest habitats, but bobcats are additionally found in desert and savanna habitats as well. 

Physical Characteristics

Canada lynx and bobcats can be difficult to differentiate as they are both smaller cats with short, bobbed tails, but there are some identifying features that anyone can learn to be able to tell the species apart. Canada lynx have longer black tufts of fur at the tips for their ears, generally longer than 1 inch in length. This is a very distinguishing feature. Their legs are long enough to help them walk through deep snow, the back legs being longer than the front. Fur under their large paws also help them in their snowy environments by providing more traction. Bobcats have a much shorter black tuft at the tips of their ears. Their legs are still long, but shorter than the Canada lynx and their smaller paws lack furry soles. Both species have short tails, but Canada lynx tails are slightly shorter and black-tipped, whereas bobcats have a black and white banded tail. The color of both species’ coats is influenced by the habitat they live in and time of year. Generally, their coats are brownish-gray and spotted, but that varies slightly based on the previously mentioned factors. Canada lynx tend to be less spotted than bobcats. Check out the graphic below to see the physical differences between bobcats and Canada lynx.

Turpentine Creek is not currently home to any Canada lynx, but come visit us to learn about our bobcats!



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