Animal Info - Iberian Lynx
(Other Names: 拟虎猫, スペインオオヤマネコ, Lince Ibérico, Lobo Cerval, Lynx dEspagne,
Lynx Pardel, Pardel
Lynx, Pardelluchs, Pardine Lynx, Spanish Lynx)
Lynx pardinus (Felis pardina or pardinus, Felis lynx pardina, Lynx lynx pardina)
1. Profile (Picture)
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where
Currently Found, Taxonomy, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Size
and Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation
Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Dispersal, Maximum Reproductive Age, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior,
Social Organization, Mortality and Survival, Density and Range)
Pictures: Iberian Lynx #1 (29 Kb
JPEG) (IUCN Cat Specialist Group); Iberian
Lynx #2 - Kitten (31 Kb
JPEG) (Large Carn. Init.
#3 (46 Kb
JPEG) (O Lince Ibérico)
The Iberian lynx weighs 9 - 13 kg (20 - 30 lb). It usually occurs in a mosaic
of woodland or dense scrub and open pasture where it feeds mainly on rabbits. This cat is
predominantly nocturnal and is an excellent tree
climber. It uses a variety of locations for breeding lairs, even including old stork
nests as much as 9 - 12 m (30 - 40') above the ground. Home ranges of males and females generally do not
overlap other ranges of the same sex. Male ranges overlap one or more female ranges.
The Iberian lynx was formerly found throughout Spain
and Portugal. Although it began to decline in the
first half of the 20th century, the decline accelerated after the 1950's due to the spread
of myxomatosis, a disease which decimated populations of the European rabbit, the lynx's
main prey. Additional factors in the lynx's decline include habitat loss (which affects
both the lynx itself as well as its rabbit prey), illegal hunting, accidental killing by
snares and poison baits set for other animals, and roadkill. By 2000 it was considered to
exist in a heavily fragmented population in which only two groups are large enough to have
long-term prospects of viability.
*** The Iberian lynx is one of the world's rarest mammals.
*** The Iberian lynx is rated as the most endangered cat species in the world because
of its low total numbers, the fragmentation and limited number of habitats it uses and its
small range. (Cat News 1998)
*** The ecology of the Iberian lynx differs from that of the Eurasian lynx. The
Eurasian lynx lives in the forest and eats ungulates
such as deer, while the Iberian lynx prefers scrub vegetation and eats mainly
rabbits. The Iberian lynx is about half the size of the Eurasian lynx.
*** Although the following was written about the Eurasian lynx, it probably also
illustrates attitudes towards the Iberian lynx at the time:
"The lynx makes his dwelling-place in the thick forests of Europe, and in rapacity
only exceeded by the wolf, is quite as much dreaded. Creeping from his lair in the
caverned rock, he marks the place where the animals herd, and, climbing up a tree, leaps
down on man or beast, whichever may stand below. He seizes the victim by the neck, lays
open the veins of the throat, sucks the blood, eats part of the flesh, and buries the
remainder..." (Myers 1870)
*** Although the Iberian lynx appears not to fear man, it will not live in areas where
permanent settlements are established. (Simon
& Geroudet 1970)
*** One of the principal reasons for the decline of the Iberian lynx was the decline of
its most important prey, the rabbit. Rabbits experienced massive mortality due to the
disease myxomatosis, which was introduced into France
from Australia in 1952 by a French pediatrician to
control the rabbits that had attacked his vegetable garden. The disease spread throughout
Europe and across the Pyrenees into Spain. (Milne & Milne 1961)
Status and Trends
- 1960's: Vulnerable
- 1970's - 1994: Endangered
- 1996 - 2000: Endangered; (Criteria: C1)
- 2001 - 2004: Critically Endangered; (Criteria:
C2a(i)) (Population Trend: Decreasing)
Countries Where the Iberian Lynx Is Currently Found:
2004: Occurs in Portugal and Spain. (IUCN
Recent genetic analyses have lead to the proposal that all modern cats can be
placed into eight lineages
which originated between 6.2 - 10.8 million years ago. The Iberian lynx is
placed in the "lynx lineage,"
which diverged from its ancestors as a separate lineage
8.0 million years ago. The lynx lineage also includes the Eurasian lynx, the Canada lynx, and the bobcat.
et al. 2006)
[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]
History of Distribution:
The Iberian lynx was formerly found throughout Spain
and Portugal and likely in the French Pyrenees.
Numbers declined in the first half of the 20th century due to the decline of goat-herding
(which helped maintain habitat for rabbit, the main food source of the Iberian lynx) and
its replacement by grain cultivation. The decline accelerated in the 1950's because
myxomatosis, a disease which decimated rabbit populations, spread into Spain from France,
where it was introduced in 1952.
By the early 1970's, the Iberian lynx was essentially limited to the southwestern corner
of the Iberian peninsula, in some of the more inaccessible mountainous regions (e.g. the
Montes de Toledo and Sierra Morena areas) and several controlled hunting areas
("cotos") in the Guadalquivir River delta. As of 1996 it occurred mainly in the
southern Iberian Peninsula in over 100 isolated sub-populations, with a range of about
14,000 sq km (5400 sq mi) (Nowell &
Jackson 1996). By 2001 it was considered to exist in a heavily fragmented
population in which only two or three groups were large enough to have long-term prospects of
viability and no subpopulation contained more than 50 mature breeding
individuals (IUCN 2003a).
Distribution Map # 1 (13 Kb
JPEG) (Large Carn. Init.
Distribution Map #2
(58 Kb JPEG) (O Lince Ibérico)
Distribution Map #3
(60 Kb JPEG) (O Lince Ibérico)
Threats and Reasons for Decline:
The decline of the Iberian lynx in the second half of this century has been mainly due
to the decline of its main prey, the rabbit (caused by disease and loss of the
pasture-scrub-woodland habitat preferred by rabbits) and loss of the lynx's habitat.
Illegal hunting (sport hunting as well as persecution due to its alleged damage to
livestock), accidental killing by snares set for rabbits and poison baits set for foxes
and other predators, and road kill have also been factors.
Data on Biology and Ecology
Length: 85 - 110 cm (34 - 43"); Average weight: 9.3 kg (20.5 lb)
(female), 12.8 kg (28.2 lb) (male)
The Iberian lynx prefers a mosaic of woodland or dense scrub for shelter during the day
and open pasture for hunting rabbits. It is found mainly between 400 - 900 m (1300 -
3000') but occurs up to 1600 m (5200').
In the Dońana region, Mediterranean scrubland was the main habitat type in home ranges and the only preferred habitat for
resident lynx. Its use was higher during the pre-dispersal phase (75% of locations)
than during the post-dispersal (52%) or the
dispersal phase (50%). During pre-dispersal, the
remaining habitats were rarely used (on average none above 9.4%), but during both
dispersal and post-dispersal, pine plantations were frequently used (25 - 30%). Lynx were
infrequently located in open habitats (pastureland, crops, marsh, and dunes) in any phase.
(Palomares et al. 2000)
The Iberian lynx is one of the species that live in the Mediterranean
Age to Maturity:
A female Iberian lynx can breed in her first year, but will do so only if there is an
available territory for her to occupy.
Approximately 2 months.
March - September, with a peak during March - April.
No more than 1 litter per year; 0.6 - 0.8 litters/female/year in areas of
good habitat; usually 3 (2 - 4) young per litter (Ferreras
et al. 2001).
Young Iberian lynx stay with their mother until she mates again in the winter. They
then remain in her territory an average of 20
months before dispersing a distance of up to 30
km (19 mi).
Maximum Reproductive Age:
10 years (female & male).
Up to 13 years.
The Iberian lynx eats European rabbits almost exclusively (93% of prey by weight during
the summer), with approximately one rabbit per day needed to fulfill energy requirements. (Nowell & Jackson 1996) When
rabbits are less available, red deer fawns, fallow deer, juvenile mouflon and ducks are
The Iberian lynx is predominantly nocturnal.
It is an excellent tree climber. Daily travel distance averages about 7 km (4.3 mi).
A variety of locations are used for breeding lairs, including cavities under thorn
thickets where twigs and grass are used to build nests, burrows, hollow trees, and even
old stork nests high off of the ground.
Captured prey is usually carried or dragged a considerable distance before being eaten,
and the remains are buried.
Home ranges of males do not overlap. Home
ranges of females are generally exclusive, but may overlap somewhat. Male ranges overlap
one or more female ranges.
The mating system of the Iberian lynx is polygyny
with a tendency towards monogamy
when there are high densities of both sexes (Ferreras
et al. 2001).
Mortality and Survival:
Annual survival rates for Iberian lynx in optimum/average habitat (Ferreras
et al. 2001):
Density and Range:
- In good quality habitat in the Coto Dońana National Park, lynx density (including
sub-adults but not kittens) was estimated at 0.16 individuals/sq km (0.42 individuals/sq
- Densities across lynx range for nine genetically isolated subpopulations were estimated
at 0.045 - 0.10 individuals/sq km (0.12 - 0.26 individuals/sq mi)
(Nowell & Jackson
Arkive, Beltran 1987,
Burnie & Wilson 2001, Burton & Pearson 1987, Cat News 1998, Cat
News 2002, Cat News 2003,
et al. 2001, FFI Update 2006,
Fisher et al. 1969, IUCN Cat Specialist Group, IUCN 1966, IUCN 1996,
IUCN 2000, IUCN
et al. 2006, Large
Carn. Init. Eur., Milne
& Milne 1961, Mountfort 1958, Myers 1870, Nowak
1999, Nowell & Jackson 1995, Nowell & Jackson 1996, O
Lince Ibérico, Oryx 2004c,
Palomares et al. 2000, Seidensticker & Lumpkin 1991, Simon & Geroudet 1970, Thornback & Jenkins 1978, Ward
Top of Page | Search
Home | Rarest
Mammals | Species Index | Species Groups Index | Country
Index | Links
Last modified: June 18, 2006;