Canada Lynx in the Great Lakes Region

Lynx or Bobcat?

Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) and bobcats (Lynx rufus) are medium-sized (2-3 times larger than a large house cat, smaller than a mountain lion) cats that are similar in appearance. The are several physical characteristics to distinguish between Canada lynx and bobcat:


The black tail, ear tufts, and large feet characteristic of Canada lynx are shown clearly in this picture.

Tail: A lynx’s tail has a black tip all around, with the appearance of being dipped in a bottle of ink. A bobcat’s tail is striped with black bands towards the end and has a black tip.

Ears: Lynx have longer ear tufts than bobcats.

Feet: Lynx have much larger feet than bobcats.

While not a physical characteristic, a lynx is more likely to provide humans with a “good” view, often remaining in an area for a period of time while people watch it. Bobcats are more secretive and elusive than lynx.

Lynx canadensis or Felis lynx? You will see Canada lynx referred to by either of these latin names, depending on the taxonomic authority that is used. Some authorities place species such as lynx, bobcat, and the domestic cat into the genus Felis. Others prefer to place Canada lynx and bobcat into a separate genus, Lynx. On this website we use the Lynx genus.

For more information about these differences, visit the links below:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Link to a brochure on how to avoid trapping lynx; provides identification hints.
(note: the brochure is slow to load)

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation: A Bobcat or a Lynx

BBC: Bobcat

BBC: Canada lynx

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