Where do births and raising early days kits in lynxes take place? When do lynxes give birth in Belarus?

The common belief of the lynx-related zoologists is that parturition in lynxes takes place in a thicket somewhere under treefall. Sometimes, it really happens. However, for more than twenty years of searching for wolf dens in Paazierre Forest and Naliboki Forest in Belarus in April-June I have found almost two thousands of wolf dens (mostly without pups, former ones etc) under treefalls and other vegetation thickets (mainly young spruce ones), but only a few lynx denning sites (easily recognisable by presence of lynx hair) have been found under treefalls.
At the same time, when I worked in the regions, there were, at least, the same or double number of lynx litters compared to the number of wolf litters. So, if female lynxes give birth under treefall and in thickets, I could discover markedly more lynx dens there, perhaps, hundreds of former lynx denning sites, too (i.e. similar as in the wolf case). Actually it was not like that, because in Belarus female lynxes give birth and place early days kits somewhere else, but not in treefalls or just vegetation thickets.

Also, it is easily understandable, why in Belarus mother lynxes avoid treefalls and other vegetation thickets as a possible place for parturitions and placing early days kits. Lynx kits are vulnerable against mosquitos, much raining and predators’ attacks (wolf or red fox may kill them). Being almost open in  treefalls and other vegetation thickets, lynx kits may be a lot affected by all those factors. So, lynx kits might have been somewhere else.

Heavily pregnant female lynx at former wolf burrow on 20th of April. in Naliboki Forest.

At the same time, we (together with Wild Naliboki team) already got many pieces of evidence ourselves that in Belarus parturition in lynxes and raising of early day kits are going on in burrows such as former wolf burrows, abandoned badger setts and abandoned semi-destroyed beaver burrow network.

It looks like burrows (also, treefalls sometimes) are not the only denning sites of lynxes in Belarus. To learn something more concerning denning in lynxes in Belarus and to built effective hypotheses for ourselves on the question, we questioned many people (hunters, wolf pup searchers etc.), to whom it may concern.

The rare information we learned from such respondents was very interesting. Twice respondents discovered lynx kits under compressed logging remains, where kits were well protected from all three negative factors mentioned above. According to their words, it looked like mother lynx did not go into the logging remains mound and just called the kits to get outside, when it came to milk them or brought meat food.

Twice lynx kits (very small kits and a month old ones) were discovered on trees in the place, where one big spruce was fallen (inclined) on another big spruce. Kits were at a height of 5-7 meters on a flat place that was somehow appeared from branches at the spruce trunks. In such a place again the lynx kits were entirely protected from three negative factors.

Also, one respondent found lynx kit in an old treefall that was overgrown densely with spruce thicket. They were at root plate of an uprooted big spruce.  Another finding was under many spruce branches compressed on each other in the place, where two big spruces were recently fallen by wind, and one crown laid on another one. In such a place lynx kits were protected from raining and mosquitos, too. One former lynx den was seen in ledum shrub among bog with suppressed pines on a distance of about 200 meters from the bog edge. In such a boggy place there are usually  a few mosquitos too because of too acid peat soil.

Concerning the timing of giving birth by female lynxes in Belarus, it appears to be prolonged;  parturition  happens starting from the last decade of April and perhaps until mid-June or until the end of May. Nevertheless, mainly births in lynxes is mainly occurred during the first and second decades of May.

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Another female lynx, which looks like pregnant, at the same former wolf burrow a year earlier, actually 1st of April.

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Lynx mother with kits at former wolf burrow.

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Habitat, where female lynx gave birth or only temporarily placed kits of about  3 weeks old in the first decade of May. The kits were placed in  the  burrow network of abandoned beaver settlement (see  the photos in the below)
Irina Rotenko inspecting one of the burrows.