What does the lynx eat?

Written by Nicklas Iversen | Last edited 1. June 2021

The lynx prefers to eat fresh meat from animals that it has killed itself. It can hunt hares, forest birds, roe deer and reindeer. It can also kill sheep. On this page, you can find out more about how the lynx hunts and what it eats.

Gaupe om vinteren. Kontrollerte forhold, men i naturlige, riktige omgivelser. Langedrag Naturpark, Nes, Buskerud. Gaupe ved dødt rådyr, et av de vanligste byttedyra til gaupa.
Gaupe om vinteren. Kontrollerte forhold, men i naturlige, riktige omgivelser. Langedrag Naturpark, Nes, Buskerud. Unggaupe - av den flekkete typen.


The lynx is a so-called stealth hunter. This means that it sneaks up on it’s prey in order to surprise it with a quick pounce.

The lynx’s fur provides effective camouflage that conceals it from watchful eyes. It’s soft fury paws are designed to be as good as silent.

When the lynx has finally crept as close as possible, it will leap out at high speed. The lynx has been timed at speeds of up to 75 km/h! The lynx can spring forwards five metres, and two metres straight up into the air. It comes as no great surprise that the lynx is the most effective hunter.

Foto: Andreas Krappweis.


Gaupa er svært godt tilpasset å jakte på småvilt, som for eksempel hare. Haren på sin side er utviklet for å oppdage gauper ved hjelp av de store ørene og øynene.

The lynx is very well adapted for hunting small game, such ashares. The hare has evolved to detect lynx with the aid of its large ears and eyes.

The lynx’s soft paws and the hare’s large ears are typical adaptations that have evolved side by side. When prey animals and predators influence each other’s adaptation through evolution in this way, we call it an evolutionary arms race.

Small game like hares, forest birds and foxes are important food sources for the lynx, but not the most important!


Rådyret er en ganske ny art i Norge. De kom hit først på starten av 1900. ​ Å jakte på rådyr krever omtrent like mye innsats for gaupa som å jakte på hare. Den store forskjellen er at det er langt mer mat på et rådyr enn på haren! Dermed er det ikke så rart at gauper som lever i områder med rådyr velger disse som sitt hovedbytte. 

The roe deer is a very new species in Norway. It first came here in the early 20th century. Hunting roe deer requires about as much effort on the part of the lynx as hunting hares. The big difference is that there is far more food on a roe deer than on a hare. So it is not very surprising that lynx living in areas with roe deer prefer these animals as their main prey.

You can learn more about roe deer here.

Foto: Matthieu Ever.


Roe deer are important prey in the south. But there are not many roe deer to be found further north. another animal is available there: the domestic reindeer. Studies have shown that the lynx can kill anywhere between four and ten reindeer a month. This makes it unpopular with reindeer farmers, of course.

The lynx can also hunt sheep. In this case it comes second behind the wolverine. It seems that male lynx, and younger animals in particular, take more sheep. This may be because female lynx are busy with cubs during the grazing season and frequently live further away from people than the solitary bachelor lynx.


This article has been written by Bjørn Henrik Stavdal Johansen, a nature guide at Visitor Centre Carnivore Flå.

Foto: Roger Brendhagen.