Iberian Lynx

By R.L.


Latin name: Lynx pardinus

Length: 80 - 130 cm (31 - 51 in)

Mass: 11 - 15 kg (24 - 33 lb)


  • solitary animals
  • silent unless threatened or with young
  • emits calls when distressed (Johnson)
  • marks territories by urinating on trees and rocks (Carruthers)
  • small heads
  • long legs
  • short (13 cm) black-tipped tails
  • flat faces
  • black tufts on ears and jowls which makes them look bearded (Johnson)

Food Chain and Habitat

Role in Food Chain: apex carnivore, with no natural predators (Johnson)

Main Diet:
  • eats European rabbit, duck, young deer, and partridge
  • European rabbits 80 - 100% of Iberian lynx diet (Von arx)
  • average adult eats one rabbit a day (Ward)
  • will often kill other carnivores to maintain rabbit supply and to keep kitten safe (Von arx)


  • lives in scattered groups on the Iberian peninsula (Portugal and Spain)
  • lives between general altitude of 400 m to 1300 m
  • requires scrub forest for shelter and grassland for rabbit supply (Ward 9)


Specialization in European Rabbits:

  • foreshortened skull that maximizes bite force of canines
  • narrower muzzles and larger jaws compared to other cats that eat large prey
  • all allow the Iberian lynx to easily puncture the back of a rabbit (Johnson)


  • tawny pelage
  • mottled with dark spots that vary in size and intensity
  • all helps to camouflage in forest and grassland (Johnson)

Photo below: (Vivtony00)

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Reasons for Endangerment and Critical Information

Reasons for Endangerment:


  • once considered the Iberian lynx as a pest and had a negative impact on small game
  • awarded bounties for lynx carcasses in the past
  • 5% of annual mortality because of poaching
  • large amount of habitat destroyed for more farmland (Johnson)

Other Reasons:

  • decline of rabbit population - caused by disease outbreaks in their population
  • habitat fragmentation - causes including agriculture, urban development, road construction, flooding, pollution, and forest fires (Johnson)

Critical Information:

  • Iberian lynxes are the most endangered feline in the world, with fewer than 250 breeding lynxes counted in the wild in 1996 (Johnson)
  • considered "Critically Endangered" by the IUCN (Von arx)

What is being done to help?

  • They are preserving the last two breeding populations, Coto Doñana and Andújar- Cardeña.
  • They are carefully monitoring the Iberian lynx population. (Von arx)
  • They are implementing a captive breeding program to save the population from extinction (Johnson)

Photo below: A lynx cub is being fed at a captive breeding center. (Barnetson)

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