#funfactfriday Although they look very similar, bobcats and lynx take very different approaches to finding food. Bobcats are fierce generalist hunters. Mostly eating small mammals like rabbits and mice, bobcats will also hunt porcupines, snakes, and even small deer.
This opportunistic hunting style is very different from the Canada Lynx, whose specialized diet consists almost entirely of snowshoe hares. If desperate, they will eat carrion or other small animals like squirrels or grouse. In fact, lynx are so reluctant to hunt other animals that if the number of snowshoe hares in an area drops, a lynx may become malnourished! In much of North America, lynx and bobcats never cross paths. Bobcats live in the southern half of the continent, and lynx the northern half. Their ranges only overlap in a thin band along parts of the Canada-US border, which means that Southern BC is one of the few areas where both species can be found! Do you know which cat is pictured above? Keep reading to find out how to tell lynx and bobcats apart.
First is their ears. Lynx have a long, jet black, tuft of fur that stands up off the top of their ears. Sometimes bobcats can have a small ear tuft, but a lynx will always have a long one. Lynx have thicker fur around their neck, which gives them a more 'bearded' appearance than bobcats.
In addition, the legs and paws of a bobcat are much much smaller than those of a lynx, as seen in the photo comparison below. Lynx paws are enormous in order to act as snowshoes when hunting in deep snow in the winter. and their back legs are longer than their front ones, which gives them a slight forward-leaning appearance. Lynx also live very high up in the mountains, where bobcats prefer valley bottoms, though there is some overlap where their habitats meet. Also, bobcats generally tend to be mostly brown and are often quite spotted, whereas lynx are usually mostly grey with more indistinct markings. The photo comparison above though shows how different lighting and natural colour variation can make this a very tough characteristic to depend on!
(Have you figured out which cat is in the first photo yet? It's a Lynx! It has long ear tufts, thick strong legs and feet, and a slightly sloped back.)
All photos here are courtesy of the USNPS.