Back to top
Lynx des Carpates © MNHN - F-G Grandin

Carpathian lynx

The Carpathian lynx, Lynx lynx carpathicus, is the largest big cat in Europe. In France, having been reintroduced in the Vosges, or having returned to the Alps of its own accord, it remains under threat from poaching and road traffic.


Class, order & family :

Mammalia, Carnivora, Felidae

Genus :


Species :


Subspecies :


Lifespan :

15 years

Height and weight :

50 cm at the shoulder, 18 kg at the most

Gestation :

67 to 74 days, 1 to 4 babies

Natural habitat :

forested areas

Diet :

deer, chamois, rabbits, rodents, birds

Native region :


Conservation programme :


IUCN status: 

LC, Least concerned

Way of life

The European lynx, is a solitary creature. However, the male tolerates the presence of females or very young lynx on its territory and, during the mating season, the couples stay together. The females give birth in a rocky crevice or a large tree stump. She raises her offspring on her own. At around 10 months old, they become independent and leave in search of a vacant home range where they can settle.

The lynx hunts at dusk, avoiding exposing itself too much during the day, when it prefers to hide away and sleep, groom itself or scan its territory. The largest prey, which is consumed over several days, is hidden under leaves.

Distinguishing features

The lynx can be identified by the brushes of hair over its ears and its short tail with its black tip.

Its paws are broad and help to prevent it from sinking in the snow. Its thick cream fur, spotted with black, protects it from the cold. While its discretion and excellent hearing help the lynx to surprise its prey, its daytime eyesight is no better than a human’s.


Hunted for its fur or to protect domestic animals, even though attacks are rare, the lynx disappeared from France at the beginning of the 20th century. It returned to Jura and the French Alps of its own accord in the 1970s, and was reintroduced in the Vosges in 1983. Low numbers, estimated at 200 individuals, fragmented territory, poaching and collisions make these populations vulnerable. The Carpathian lynx, which lives in Western Europe, is a subspecies that originated from the Balkans.

Lynx des Carpates © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Lynx des Carpates © MNHN - A. Iatzoura
Lynx des Carpates © MNHN - F-G Grandin