Social behaviour in lynxes in non-mating season

Lynxes are known as mainly solitary carnivores. Social contacts between adults are believed to be strictly limited to a mating season and within mother-kits family group.Nevertheless, in our studies (together with Wild Naliboki team) on the lynx ecology and behaviour in Naliboki Forest, we have already found many other social contacts in non-mating season. In the winter 2016-2017 we found out an adult male and female lynxes were regularly walking together from November up to the mating season in February-March. We have pictures of a male and a female at the same spot in November within the same minute. During the next months – while snow-tracking them – we found out that they regularly hunted together. At the same time, the male tended to go alone for territorial marking far away outside of the core area of their paired stay. The same winter we found another adult male and female lynxes living together since mid-December till mid-April.

 

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Male lynx and female lynx at the same spot in November. Compilation of two pictures made within the same minute.

 

Another interesting aspect in social interactions between lynxes is that of sub-adults, their mother and the new kittens of the year. Lynx yearlings separate from their mother in spring just before or during a month after the mating season. Some yearlings disperse right away, others hang around in the vicinity of their natal home range for a while longer. In the beginning of the winter 2016-2017 we photographed a female with her two kittens of the year together with a sub-adult i.e. a young of the previous year. Later that winter, during snow tracking sessions we also found their joint tracks, but not all the time. Often the sub-adult was walking alone, it stayed the whole winter in a very small area (approximately 10-15 km²), within the larger home range of the mother.

Another interesting aspect in social interactions between lynxes is that of sub-adults, their mother and the new kittens of the year. Lynx yearlings separate from their mother in spring, a gradual process which starts in mating season when they are left alone by the mother for several days when she goes mating. After the mating season yearlings often join their mother again for a few weeks but towards the time of new parturition they leave and have to search for their own spot. Some yearlings disperse right away, others hang around in the vicinity of their natal home range for a while longer.

In the beginning of the winter 2016-2017 we photographed a female with her two kittens of the year together with a sub-adult, most likely a young of the previous year. Later that winter, during snow tracking sessions we also found their joint tracks, but not all the time. Often the sub-adult was walking alone, it stayed the whole winter in a very small area (approximately 10-15 km²), within the larger home range of the mother.

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You see mother lynx leading two kits of the year and one kit of the previous year (behind the burrow the right one)

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