On our discovery tour, we want to provide insight into the biology and distribution of the lynx. Here, you can not only discover interesting facts about the lynx's way of life but also view exciting graphics with the use of augmented reality that allows you to bring a life-size lynx into your living room. Have fun!
The 5 unique characteristics of the lynx
Every lynx looks different, but there are common characteristic features that can only be found in the lynx.
Look at the digital lynx from all sides and click on the five white dots to find out what makes the lynx special.
Try it out: The lynx in your living room - Augmented Reality (AR) makes it possible!
With the help of a smartphone or tablet, you can bring our animated 3D lynx into your own living room: Experience an up-close look at the largest of the native wild cats as an augmented reality (AR).
What does a lynx eat?
In Germany and Central Europe, roe deer are by far the most important prey of the lynx. While chamois play an important role in the alpine region or snow hares and reindeer in the boreal coniferous forest, the share of deer in the lynx's food spectrum in this part of Europe can be up to 90%. On average, a lynx eats about one deer per week.
However, lynx can prey on a wide variety of animal species. Besides roe deer, (young) red deer, (young) wild boar, mouflon, hares, foxes, small mammals and occasionally birds are preyed upon. The food composition is mainly influenced by regional factors such as the availability of prey, but the season (e.g. snow depth) also plays a role.
A study in the Bavarian Forest National Park, for example, in which 222 kills were taken into account, came to the following conclusion:
*Heurich, M., & Sinner, K. F. (2012). Der Luchs: die Rückkehr der Pinselohren. Buch-& Kunstverl. Oberpfalz.
How big is the territory of a lynx?
Lynxes have very large territories. This is largely due to their way of hunting. As a so-called interval hunter, the lynx depends on the lack of attention of its prey and the element of surprise. Once a lynx has successfully preyed, it usually moves to another corner of its territory for the next hunt, where its prey is still or again careless. The absolute size of a lynx territory depends on factors such as food availability, habitat quality and population density.
Lynx living in areas with abundant prey and suitable habitats tend to have smaller territories compared to those in areas with lower food availability or fragmented habitats. At the same time, the territories of male lynx are significantly larger and overlap up to three female territories.
On average, male lynx in Central Europe have territories of between 200 and 400 square kilometers, while females have territories of between 100 and 200 square kilometers. Both males and females defend their territories against members of the same sex. This explains the naturally low population density.
How do I recognize a lynx track?
The paw prints of a lynx resemble those of a domestic cat but are much larger. The almost round outlines have a diameter of 7 to 10 centimeters. In contrast to fox and dog tracks, claw prints are extremely rare to see, as the lynx only uses its claws when necessary, such as in steep terrain. The asymmetrical arrangement of the four pads is also characteristic.
What sounds does a lynx make?
In the wild, lynx are rarely heard. During the mating season from January to April, however, the calls of the lynx can be heard for kilometers through the forest. Like other cats, the lynx is capable of a whole range of sounds: from growls and hisses to purrs and calls.
Where do lynx live in Europe?
There are two lynx species in Europe: the Eurasian lynx, which once occurred from Western Europe to East Asia, and the smaller Iberian lynx, which is only found on the Iberian Peninsula.
The Eurasian lynx's range is still vast, but it largely disappeared from Western Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries due to hunting and habitat loss. Intact lynx populations remained only in Scandinavia, the Baltic States, the Carpathians and the Balkans.
All other lynx occurrences in Europe today, including in Germany or Switzerland, are due to reintroductions. For some decades now, the presence of the lynx in Europe has been improving again - through active support!
Where do lynx live in Germany?
So far, three lynx populations in Germany also reproduce: in the Bavarian Forest (border triangle of Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria), in the Harz Mountains and in the Palatinate Forest. Other individual animals are also known from other regions. In Baden-Württemberg, for example, there are currently three male lynx that originally migrated from Switzerland (as of August 23).
The major problem of these and other lynx occurrences in Central Europe is isolation and the associated danger of genetic impoverishment and inbreeding. The main goals of lynx conservation in Germany are, therefore, the connection and establishment of a so-called metapopulation. An example of this would be a network of subpopulations that are in genetic exchange with each other. The Thuringian Forest is to become an important node in this network.
A stable lynx occurrence in the Thuringian Forest should enable an interconnection of the populations in the Harz Mountains and in Bavaria as well as the colonization of other suitable habitats in the neighboring low mountain ranges.