Where do lynxes give birth to their kits?
In the series of photos taken in the early spring of 2016 in the Yunitsa locality (the central part of Naliboki Forest) you see a lynx family (mother with three kits) at a wolf burrow.
Initially, this burrow was one of the entrances of a red fox earth that was enlarged by wolves in April-May of 2008, 2013 and 2015. Nevertheless, the wolves have never located small pups in the burrow. However, in July-August of 2008 and 2013 wolf pups used the burrow a lot in rainy weather and when there were too many mosquitos.There is much support to the idea that in May-June 2015 the three lynx kits were born and placed in the burrow. The burrow entrance was a lot trampled, but it was hard to notice any tracks and identify them because the long-legged lynx mother crawled to enter the burrow. Later in June-August there were numerous footprints of lynx kits around there. Obviously, they were raised there and afterwards they frequently visited the burrow and its surroundings.
In the other photos you see the heavily pregnant female, the same one a few weeks later, which is evidently interested in the burrow again. It is interesting that the local wolves pay attention to the burrow too. Additionally, we have already had a lot of other proves (photos, footprint registrations) of frequent visits of lynxes to abandoned badger setts, former wolf burrows and complicated burrow systems of former beaver settlements.
All these data are well connected with one curious and unknown question: where mother lynx actually gives birth and raises early day kits in the flat (i.e. non-mountain) forested area of Europe?
I have talked to many lynx-related researchers and amateurs and have not discovered that they have any well proved ideas or feel confident enough to prove their assumptions. A possible answer is that such sites might be wind treefalls particularly with spruces. Actually, lynx-related people (researchers and amateurs) say that they have seen several such dens, but it is too few, and where are the many others situated? Sometimes it is really like that and you can find a den in a treefall at the root plate of an uprooted tree, but it happens quite rarely and the majority of lynx dens are definitely in other places...
While wolf pup searching I have done for decades, having inspected a lot of such sheltered places and having found hundreds and even about a thousand of former wolf dens, I have discovered few lynxes’ ones only. That means that lynx mothers give birth and raise early day cubs somewhere else, for instance, in burrows: abandoned badger setts, burrows and lodges of former beaver settlements and former wolf burrows. Why not? Lynx is quite light and haired, so it is hard to notice its tracks at a burrow entrance. We have already had much evidence of this burrow-related idea. And this is one of the challenges of our further studies on lynxes in Naliboki Forest. Camera-traps will hopefully help us on the way.