Reader Barry called my attention to this video, which appeared on Robert Krulwich’s National Public Radio website. The conversation begins 33 seconds in, and I believe these are Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis).
Look at the size of those paws!
I looked up “lynx vocalizations” to find out why they sound like this. Apparently, explaining weird cat sounds is not yet a major scholarly pursuit. Mel and Fiona Sunquist, in their book Wild Cats of the World, say lynxes can “mew, spit, hiss and growl; they also yowl, chatter, wah-wah, gurgle, and purr.” But the Sunquists don’t say why. Another scholar, Gustav Peters, says lynx mating calls (Is that what we heard? Or was that just two lynxes yakking?) are “a series of intense mews.” Intense, for sure. Mews? Those lynxes weren’t mewing.
The lynx seem unperturbed by the light, which I find surprising.
31 thoughts on “Two lynx have a chinwag”
My cat recognized these as cat noises. She ran to the window to see the fighting kitties. They weren’t there, so she ran to the patio.
The cat on my lap looked at the screen with ears pricked up, then looked at me for a cue, then lost interest.
Both of my cats instinctively thought this was alarming. One hid in a corner while the other looked quizzical, like, “Am I supposed to go out and kick some ass now?”
It may not be a major scholarly pursuit, but Mara G. did cover it recently in her very funny WTF evolution blog.
Can you imagine hearing that in the middle of the night in a camping tent? Scary!
As a frequent camper, that’s the first thing I thought of. That would scare the crap out of me. I’d probably imagine something like a horde of demonic toddlers coming to eat me.
Seems like a mildly aggressive standoff. I have seen domestic cats do those kind of vocalizations when cross with each other (higher pitch of course), or when new cats are posturing for the food dish (not for quite so long a duration, though). They even do similar “close but not too close” positioning while doing so. I suspect the motions either closer (being more aggressive) or moving/turning away (sign of submission) tend to highen the vocalizations until one of them decides to leave the area.
Just a way of establishing dominance without inflicting damage? No doubt there is only so much one can draw from parallels in domestic cats and lynxes, though.
I’m inclined to agree with you. Sounds and looks like a territorial dispute of some sort.
They also seem accustomed to the flashlight.
Yes. Notice that the lynx with its back to us during the encounter had its ears laid back while the one facing us had his/hers fully erect. The first lynx was challenging the second but couldn’t make it back off.
The near lynx raised its paw, and the moment it put it down again was when it lost the contest. Sticking around so long afterwards gets it some dignity points, but the one facing the camera never looked scared or even pissed off (either that, or their faces are very hard to read!), and was sitting in a pretty relaxed manner.
I think this kind of stance and behavior should be adopted on the next debates against tedious and uninteresting sophisticated theologians and/or creationists.
If these noises and postures are anything like my house cats (and one of my dearly departed was part bobcat), then those are two pissed off lynxes.
Not a main coon cat or Manx cat?
Is a bobcat/domestic cat hybrid possible? That surprises me.
I agree. It sounds a lot like our cat when the neighbour’s tomcat is stepping on her lawn.
Doesn’t look like territorial behavior. Perhaps getting hormones in sync for mating? They wouldn’t appear to be on the same page just yet. But then I’m not a lynx. What do I know?
I agree. Not sure if that was a male/female exchange or 2 males establishing territory boundaries, but it definitely involved mating.
When ancient man heard that kind of sound while huddled in the dark around a fire, he’d have no choice but to imagine banshees and demons.
When history channel producers hear this, they can’t help but imagine bigfoot.
The bare ground with no vegetation makes me wonder if these are captive lynx. That would also explain the strange very high, very close camera angle and the lack of response to the light. It is hard to get that close to a wild felid at night with a light, unless one had lots of patience and luck.
I’ve seen one in the wild – we were doing a nocturnal toad survey, which involved driving kilometre after kilometre down a boreal forest seismic road, stopping every click to listen for toads, and a lynx appeared in our high-beams at one point. We had stopped for a listen anyway, and the lynx appeared completely unfazed by being spotlighted – it looked at us, then walked along the verge and back into the woods, stopping for a bit of mousing along the way.
Only one observation, but it makes me think that lynx may not care much about being illuminated.
My experiences are similar to yours. The lynx encounter shown takes place on a gravel road. I have shown lights on a few animals (bobcat, deer, elk) and they are rarely spooked by the lights.
Yes, it’s a bit odd, when you consider how dazzling this must be. Not good for an animal that must rely upon visual accommodation to darkness for the rest of the night.
sounds like two Klingons arguing.
“I hear what you’re saying, but really, I think we’re saying the same thing.”
They slapped each other at the start and thought “shit that hurt” so decided to growl at each other instead.
Hum, this exact video was already posted a few months ago:
Well, some of us are in our dotage and forget some of the many things we posted. What, exactly, is the point of your comment, and the “hum”?
Forgetting previous posts is generally considered a bug (the software kind). It is also generally considered desirable that bugs be reported, and courteous to do so. The purpose of the comment is to do precisely that, and you will note that all but 5 characters of it (counting the comma and space) carry the relevant information, with no subtext whatsoever, for you to use (or evidently not) as you will.
As for the “Hum, ” — which can effectively be read as subtext — it is ‘an inarticulate sound uttered in a pause of speech implying doubt and deliberation’ [Wiktionary], in that case translating the sensation of déjà-vu, followed by doubt and mild incredulity when I saw that none of the commenters seemed to have noticed (was that a different video after all? Or did I see it elsewhere? Or did I dream it?). That doubt was of course subsequently removed when I performed a search and found the original.
Were I, hypothetically speaking, to now utter a second “Hum,” it would probably carry a subtext of mild incredulity at having had to explain that.
Not that I would.
Perhaps you’ve seen on Youtube a fight between a lynx and a slightly smaller but incredibly ferocious bobcat. Impressive creatures.
Once saw, but can’t seem to locate again, on Youtube, a tussle between a wolverine and a badger. A draw.
Not fighting at all. These are, after all, Canada Lynx and are merely apologizing to each other.