The tiger is the largest of all cat species, belonging to the genus Panthera and classified in the family Felidae. It is a large predator distinguished by the dark vertical stripes on dense reddish-brown or orangish-brown fur. Alongside its recognizable coat pattern, the tiger possesses a muscular body, large head, small, rounded ears, powerful forelimbs, and a long tail. The global tiger population today has declined to about 4,683 due to poaching, habitat destruction, and reduced food sources.
List of Common Types of Tiger Species
The species Panthera tigris is divided into two
subgroups, including the Mainland Asian tigers and the Sunda Islands tigers. These
two subgroups include the following extant subspecies.
Among the living subspecies, the Siberian Tiger is the biggest and is followed by the Bengal Tiger. The extinct subspecies are Caspian Tiger, Javan Tiger, and Bali Tiger.
Physical Description and Appearance
Size: The males vary in length, ranging from
8.2-12.8 ft (250-390 cm) and having a skull length of 12.4-15.1 inches (316-383
mm). Females, on the other hand, are 6.5-9 ft (200-275 cm) long and have a
skull length of 10.5-12.5 inches (268-318 mm).
Weight: Male tigers can weigh anywhere
between 198 and 675 lbs (90 and 306 kg) while the females have a weight ranging
from 143-368 lbs (65-167 kg).
Color: Tigers usually have three color
variations, including the standard orangish-brown with black stripes, pale
golden with cinnamon stripes, and white with dark or black stripes.
Eyes: They have amber or yellow irises
with black pupils, while the white tiger has blue eyes
Ears: Small, rounded with a white spot on
the back and surrounded by black
Skull: The frontal region is less
flattened, and the area located behind the postfrontal region is slightly
longer than a lion’s skull
Teeth: They have a powerful jaw containing
30 teeth, with the upper canines being the largest among cat species, measuring
2.5-3 inches in length.
distribution range of tigers extended from Transcaucasia and eastern Turkey,
across South Asia and Southeast Asia to the Sea of Japan coasts and the islands
of Java, Bali, and Sumatra. However, tigers are now mainly distributed across
the Indian subcontinent, the Russian Far East, Sumatra, and the Indochinese Peninsula.
Breeding populations often move to Myanmar and China from the neighboring countries.
What Kind of Habitats do Tigers Live in
usually live in places where populations of deer, antelopes, sheep, goats,
buffalos, and bison are stable. They are found in a wide range of habitats,
including riverine forests, swamp forests, tropical forests, evergreen forests,
savannah, rugged montane forests, mixed deciduous forests, and tall grasslands.
How Long do They Live
lifespan of tigers in the wild is 10-15 years, while captive tigers usually
live for 16-20 years.
What do They Eat
apex predators, preying on large and medium-sized animals, including ungulates
that can weigh up to 2,000 lbs. They can take down sambar deer, wild boars,
swamp deer, Manchurian wapiti, and adult gaurs. Tigers are also opportunistic
hunters, and they feed on smaller prey like peafowl, monkeys, hares,
porcupines, fish, and ground-based birds. They occasionally hunt rhinoceros and
elephant calves, as well as other predators such as leopards, crocodiles,
pythons, and wild dogs.
they live in proximity to humans, tigers typically hunt at night to avoid
chances of encountering people. However, they prefer hunting during the day if
their habitat is far away from the human territory.
can climb trees and are excellent swimmers. They keep themselves cool in the
summer by bathing in lakes, ponds, and rivers.
tigers move over long distances (up to 650 km) through forested habitats to
reach populations in other directions.
tigers are solitary animals that establish and maintain their territories. They
have wide home ranges in which they confine their movements and satisfy the needs
of their cubs.
spray trees with urine and anal gland secretions to identify their territories.
They also scratch the ground or trees with their claws and mark trails with
feces or scat.
disputes occur among tigers in which the subordinate accepts defeat by assuming
a submissive posture, which involves rolling on the back and displaying its
killing a prey, tigers occasionally drag it to hide it in bushes by grabbing
with their mouths at the throat and nape.
vertical black stripes along with the orangish-brown coloration provide superb camouflage
in the vegetation, making them hard to detect for an unsuspecting prey.
have a sharp sense of hearing and can hear infrasound (sound waves below the
normal audible range of 20 Hz-20 kHz), which they use for communicating over
of their large size and great strength, they can easily knock their prey off
balance. After that, they grasp the nape or throat with their powerful jaws and
long canine teeth, which they use for suffocating the prey.
claws are up to 4 inches long, which they use for climbing in addition to
capturing and holding onto prey.
have a mirror-like structure behind the retina that reflects light back into
the eye, producing a brighter image and enabling them to have good night
Life Cycle of a Tiger
the weight of a tiger varies between 750 and 1600 grams. The cubs stay hidden
for the first 8 weeks of their lives in the den prepared by their mother. While
the mother nurses her cubs, she gradually introduces them to solid foods when
they are 6-8 weeks old.
are two months old, they are allowed to go out of the den. In the next few
months, the mother trains her cubs to live and hunt independently. By 18 months
of age, the cubs are able to hunt alone. Nonetheless, they remain with their
mother up to the time they are 2-2.5 years old.
tigers reach sexual maturity at 3-4 years of age while the males attain
maturity when they are 4-5 years old.
How do They Reproduce and Mate
can mate all year round, copulation typically happens in the cooler months,
i.e., between November and April. The female tigers are receptive for 3-6 days,
and mating frequently occurs during that time. Cubs are mostly born during the
summer months (from March to June), with the mother giving birth to a litter of
three or four cubs in sheltered locations like caves, rocky crevices, dense
thickets, and tall grasses. The male tigers do not take part in raising the
What does the Baby Tiger Look Like
gestation period of 103-105 days, the cubs are born with their eyes closed. While
they open their eyes at the age of 6-14 days, they lose their milk teeth when
they are about 2 weeks old.
conservation programs, including the Terai-Arc Landscape, have been set up to
improve tiger habitats especially the fragmented ones in northern India and
Nepal. In July 2006, a conservation organization named Panthera worked jointly
with the Wildlife Conservation Society on the Tigers Forever project to
increase the population of tigers in India, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos,
and Indonesia by 50% over 10 years. The World Wildlife Fund has undertaken
efforts in protecting landscapes and preventing poaching. It has formed the
Save Tigers Now project, which aims to double the population of wild tigers by
1. How many tigers are left in the
There are at
least 3890 tigers left in the wild.
2. Are there tigers in Africa?
have ever existed in the wild in Africa.
3. Are tigers endangered?
the IUCN RED List, tigers are globally considered an “Endangered” species.
4. How fast can a tiger run?
can run at a speed of 49-65 km/h in short bursts.
5. Are tigers bigger than lions?
tigers, particularly the Siberian and Royal Bengal tigers, are 15%-25% bigger
6. What is a baby tiger called?
It is called
a whelp or cub.
7. What are the predators of a tiger?
tigers do not have any predators, they have natural enemies including bears,
elephants, and crocodiles that may attack them during conflicts.
8. Do tigers purr?
a friendly, soft, low-frequency chuffing instead of purring.
9. How much do tigers eat?
In the wild,
adult tigers can fast for up to 2 weeks and then gorge on about 75-100 lbs of
flesh at a single sitting. In captivity, they are fed 6-13 lbs of meat per day.
Tigers make two different roars, including the ‘true’ roar that is forced through the open mouth and the harsher ‘coughing’ roar that is produced with open mouth and exposed teeth.
The ‘true’ roar of tigers may be heard 3 kilometers away, and it is produced 3-4 times in succession.
Although they are exclusively carnivorous, they occasionally eat vegetation, including the fruit of slow match tree, to obtain dietary fiber.
In captivity, tiger hybrids were produced, but their breeding is now discouraged for conserving their natural traits. A male lion crossed with a tigress produces a liger while a male tiger crossed with a lioness produces a tigon.
People in Asian countries, including China, believe that tiger parts possess medicinal properties and make good aphrodisiacs and pain killers. However, there are no scientific researches that support these beliefs.