… Let me guess. Endangered species?
Yep. This time it’s the Lynx pardinus, the Iberian or Spanish lynx. Declared Critically Endangered by the IUCN as of 2001, the majority of Iberian lynx exist in the Coto Doñana National Park on the Iberian Peninsula (in southwestern Spain and Portugal) in two or three largely fragmented populations, with a worldwide population of between 150 and 300 individuals.

Aside from the standard clearing of its habitat by mankind as a reason for its endangered status, the decline of rabbits due to myxomatosis and other diseases, and illegal and accidental killings are also factors.

Help! It’s going to eat me!
Don’t let’s be silly. The Iberian lynx feeds almost exclusively on rabbits, which is the reason that myxomatosis outbreaks that killed a lot of the rabbit population had such an effect on the lynx. During the winter, when the rabbit population is scarcer, the lynx switches tracks to feed on deer, mouflon, and duck. Its hunting is primarily nocturnal, when the Iberian lynx is most active.

Oh… well, then can I cuddle the fuzzy kitty?
You can try, but that’s probably not a good idea. The Iberian lynx weighs between 20 and 30 pounds (9-13 kg) and measures between 34 and 43 inches (85-110cm). Its fur is grayish with tints ranging in color from yellow to rust, and is distinctively spotted. They have a flared facial ruff, black tufts of hair from their ears, and long hind legs with a short black-tipped tail. It is often mistaken to be a bobcat.

And besides, if you tried to hug an endangered species, you’d be in the slammer before you could blink. If the lynx didn’t get to you first.

My cat just gave birth to five kittens… is this thing like that?
After reaching sexual maturity (within one year of birth), the female Iberian lynx will begin to breed, but only if there is available territory. After a gestation period of about two months, a litter of between two and four (with an average of three) young is born during the birth season (March to September, peaking in March and April). Both the male and female Iberian lynx have a maximum reproductive age of about ten years, with an average lifespan of thirteen years.

Sources:
http://www.animalinfo.org/species/carnivor/lynxpard.htm
http://www.bigcatrescue.org/iberian_lynx.htm
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/index.html?http://www.unep-wcmc.org/species/data/species_sheets/iberlynx.htm~main

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