A video recently captured in Ontario, Canada shows a truly rare sight: two Canada lynx, yowling their furry little faces off at each other – seeming for all the world like they’re locked in an intense debate, but without any physical blows.
“We started off down this road and there were two lynx on the road and as we approached, they didn’t move which was really odd,” Trist told Global News.
“We got out and started filming it … what we caught on camera is very, very rare to catch.”
The wails are loud and almost human-like, but the body language of the two lynx doesn’t seem to indicate a desire to escalate aggression – one does take a swipe at the other, but it appears tentative.
In fact, the lynx are vocalising and behaving very differently from two male Canada lynx caught fighting back in March, that screeched and swiped at each other, one pursuing another up a tree.
If you’ve lived in a cat-heavy neighbourhood, though, the yells might sound a little familiar.
That’s because they’re a lot like the caterwauling of domestic cats during mating season – and the dispute probably does have something to do with mating, according to Luke Hunter of global wild cat conservation organisation Panthera.
“Canada lynx, due to their harsh winters, are highly seasonal breeders, and this is right at the end of their usual breeding period,” he told Live Science.
Because it’s the end of the season, lynx who haven’t had a chance to breed will be getting desperate to do so. And that’s probably the cause of this stand-off.
Although it’s impossible to tell the sex of these lynx just from this video, their behaviour indicates that they’re a male and female, where the male wants to mate with a disinterested female, Hunter explained.
“They’re sort of standing off from each other, and both are doing their best not to escalate,” he said.
“They’re engaging in a ritualised way of trying to assess whether the other party is dangerous, whether it’s a mating opportunity, because you don’t want to rush in and start a fight … All the vocalisation and movements are designed to … defuse the possibility of real danger.”
He also noted that the head-butting – usually a sign of affection in felines – could be an attempt to de-escalate, but that the situation was too fraught for either lynx to fully accept the gesture.
Trist said he watched the lynx for about 10 minutes before getting back in his car and heading off – but that the two animals were so caught up in their discussion they didn’t even stop when the car drove past.
For all we know, they could be still going.