Categories: Tiger

How many stripes do tigers have?

How many stripes do tigers have? Around 100 I’d say as it is possible to do the obvious: count them from a photograph. Of course it is not a very precise process as a tiger’s stripes are irregular in shape and fragmented. But if you count the number of stripes on both flanks and add the number of stripes on the (1) face (2) forelegs (3) hind legs and (4) tail you come to a bit less than 100 at about 98.

Note: I decided to count each flank separately as the stripes don’t necessarily circumvent the body. There might be a break.

I am also able to rely upon accurate figures for the number of stripes on the tiger’s flank from a book: Riding the tiger: tiger conservation in human-dominated landscapes By John Seidensticker. The authors obtained the information from the National History Museum and from photographs in Mazák (1996).

Across the species the average number of stripes mid-flank is around 26. Multiply this by 2 for both flanks tom make 52. Add in the hind legs at 10 for each leg making 20. Add the forelegs at 3 per leg making 6. Add in the tail at about 10. Finally add the stripes on the tiger’s head at about 10.

The total is 98 stripes. Bearing in mind (1) the difficulty in counting and (2) the variation between species and individual tigers I think it is far to round it up to about 100. This is the same as the answer provided on the Quora.com website.

Great Cats by edited by Seidensticker and Lumpkin says that the Chinese tiger has the fewest stripes. Next fewest are on the Amur tiger then the Bengal tiger, then the Indochinese tiger. The island subspecies have the most stripes.

A tiger’s stripes are unique to each cat and provide the equivalent of a ‘finger print’ for each cat. If a scientist wants to positively identify a specific animal he can do so from his/her stripes. Using this characteristic of tigers scientists came up with a computer algorithm to identify tigers accurately.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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