Other Mammals - Sounds Wild



It's feeding time at the Alaska Zoo, and Tuesday is chicken day. When the lynx get their chickens, they respond much like a pair of competitive housecats. When one lynx shows a little too much interest in her neighbors' food, she expresses her displeasure.

Cats the world over show a great many similarities, especially in behavior. They vary in size, of course, and different species have adaptations that suit them for their particular environments. The lynx is the only cat native to Alaska. The lynx is like a bobcat, but modified for northern life. Very large, broad, furry feet function as snowshoes to aid the lynx in winter hunting and traveling over deep snow. Dense, soft fur, and a bib-like ruff keep the cat warm in winter. Like the bobcat, the lynx has a short tail and long tufts on the tip of each ear, but the furry tufts are noticeably longer on the lynx. Most adults weigh from 18 to 30 pounds - males are generally larger than females and can weigh 40 pounds.

The presence and abundance of Alaska's native wild cat is closely tied to snowshoes hares. The production and survival of lynx kittens is strongly influenced by the cyclic changes in snowshoe hares. When prey is abundant, a high percentage of 1-year old lynx produce kittens, as well as older females, and most of the kittens which survive. When prey is scarce, very few yearlings breed, the number of adults breeding declines, and very few kittens survive their first year.