Iberian Lynx Facts
- The Iberian Lynx is a species of wildcat currently only found in a small section of western Europe. The IUCN lists this beautiful animal as Endangered.
- The primary threats to its existence include habitat loss and a significant reduction of its natural prey.
- It has a highly specialized diet. It preys almost exclusively on two species of rabbit endemic to the same region.
- Its only other known natural prey consists of small rodents and birds.
- Two separate diseases have significantly reduced the amount of available prey for the Iberian Lynx. Concerted efforts by associations such as the EU LIFE-Nature project currently remain underway.
- These include captive breeding and reintroduction programs. Its known numbers in the wild have risen, but remain at only 309 individuals.
Iberian Lynx Physical Characteristics
The Iberian Lynx attains an average head and body length of roughly 43 in (110 cm). The tail stays relatively short in comparison with other species of wildcat. It averages about 12 in (30 cm) in length.
This lynx displays a moderate degree of sexual dimorphism. Though the lengths remain similar between the genders, the male develops significantly stockier in its build.
The male averages nearly 28 lb (13 kg), while the female averages around 21 lb (9.4 kg) in weight. The legs of the Iberian Lynx grow relatively long. Like other species of lynx, the ears have a tuft.
The coloring generally appears tawny, with dark spots of varying sizes. The muzzles appear slightly more elongated in shape than most varieties of wildcats.
Species: O. manul
Iberian Lynx Distribution and Habitat
Fossil evidence also indicates that the Iberian Lynx has never had a significant endemic range. It once inhabited a range that encompassed a region that included portions of what is now France, Portugal, and Spain.
Currently, the Iberian Lynx is only known to exist in two areas in Andalucia, Spain. Only two known breeding populations remain.
The Iberian Lynx prefers to inhabit regions of rather open grassland mixed with areas of dense shrubbery. Presently, its known population is restricted to areas of maquis shrubland, lowland forests, and mountain areas.
Much of what previously constituted its natural habitat range has now been taken for the construction of roads and dams.
Iberian Lynx Ecology
The Iberian Lynx possesses a highly specialized diet, consisting chiefly of rabbits. Being smaller than most species of lynx, it remains incapable of attacking larger prey. A male consumes an average of one rabbit per day. A female with kittens consumes an average of three per day.
This animal is also rather solitary in nature, except when mating. Individuals roam over great distances searching for food, especially with the reduction of local populations of natural prey.
It exhibits a rather high degree of territorial behavior, except for females during mating season. Litters typically consist of 2-3 kittens. For reasons which remain undetermined, young offspring also become violent towards each other between 30-60 days after birth, making infant mortality rates high.
The average lifespan of the Iberian Lynx in the wild is 13 years.