By Julia Magsombol 

Local Journalism Initiative 

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The elusive and mysterious lynx is steeped in mythology; known in Indigenous culture as the ‘keeper of secrets.’ But what secrets do they hide? 

A mesmerizing gaze into your own pet feline’s eyes can prompt you to wonder the same thing. 

Like a giant house cat, the lynx is very independent, and seeing one is considered rare.

If you are lucky, you might see one in the boreal and sub-boreal forests in the inland northern half of British Columbia.

Lynxes are originally from Africa and originated from the now-extinct family of miacids. The oldest lynx remains were found in Africa approximately four million years ago. 

There are different types of lynxes: the Eurasian, Canadian, and Iberian. The Eurasian lynxes entered North America about 2.5 million years ago. They have evolved into Canadian lynxes and are spotted in different provinces in Canada. 


Their colour varies from medium brown to gold and beige-white. In winter, their fur becomes thick and long. The length of their fur varies from 10 centimeters long. Like most cats, their fur is fluffy and soft.

They have a short body and tail, yet they have long legs. They are most easily recognized by the black tips of their tails. Their appearance is similar to both cats and tigers. The ears of a lynx are much longer and more pointy than a cat; almost shaped like a triangle. Their height varies from 48 to 56 cm. 

Social behaviour and diet 

Canadian lynxes are solitary animals, meaning they mostly live alone or in pairs. They only socialize when they mate. Lynxes usually come together during the breeding season from January to March. The females and males only meet for a short period of time. 

Female lynxes only mate with one male, resulting in fierce competition. They only take a month or two to become pregnant. Female lynxes give birth to one to four babies and raise them alone.

Lynxes are carnivores, meaning they eat other animals’ meat for consumption. 

They are highly specialized in hunting snowshoe hares. They usually consume one or two hares a day. During the summer season, their diet has more variety, and they consume small mammals. 

Just like cats, they don’t pose a threat to humans unless they are in danger or threatened. They defend themselves fiercely.  

Canadian Lynxes create their dens in forests as excellent coverage in the undergrowth, including fallen trees. 

After birth, they keep their kittens safe under trees, shrubs, or rock ledges.

They are considered endangered in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Agriculture and human development are the main reasons.

A drop of their main food source, which is the snowshoe hare, can also cause the endangerment of lynxes. 

Lynxes in Indigenous culture 

They are considered elusive and mysterious in some native cultures. In some Indigenous stories, they have the gift of true seeing and observation. As previously mentioned, they are known as the ‘keeper of secrets’. 

Lynxes are significant to Algonquians because they offer them protection and medicine.

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