Pseudo-melanistic Bengal tiger inspects scent marking on a tree

Pseudo-melanistic Bengal tiger inspects a tree for scent

Pseudo-melanistic Bengal tiger inspects a tree for scent. Click on the image to see it larger. Screenshot from Twitter video (cleaned up).

The Indian ranger, Susanta Nanda, in his tweet describes this tiger, captured in a camera trap video, as melanistic. I think, in fact, that the tiger is better described as being pseudo-melanistic. This is because the stripes are still visible against the background but the stripes are much thicker and therefore much closer together which prevents the tawny background being visible. True melanistic big cats are completely charcoal black with ghost markings.

So-called black tigers are in fact pseudo-melanistic tigers. Sarah Hartwell, an expert in this field, tells us that they are getting more common which may be due to inbreeding caused by habitat reduction. This must mean that the genetic mutation causing pseudo-melanism is recessive and therefore hidden under normal circumstances.

RELATED: Rare black tigers – pseudo-melanistic tigers – photographed in India

India’s Bengal tigers are being squeezed into smaller areas despite a network of reserves in that country because of an increased human population year-on-year. Arguably, some of the reserves are too small in any case as they can’t truly accommodate anything other than a small number of tigers as tigers require very large home ranges.

Therefore, there is a limited choice of mates which promotes inbreeding and according to Sarah Hartwell “the perpetuation of anomalous patterns or colours”. Apparently, there are also some true melanistic tigers coming through because of inbreeding. Sometimes black leopards are misidentified as black tigers.

RELATED: see a website dedicated to the tiger.

The ranger says that the tiger is scent marking. I think the tiger is checking scent on the tree deposited by another animal, perhaps another tiger.

Below are some more pages on Bengal tigers.

Tiger height versus medium dog
The title is a bit vague because it neither specifies the species of tiger nor the species of dog. The ...
Dominant stare to prevent a tiger or lion attack
Lion and tigers, the two biggest cats have the ability to regard humans as dominant if humans stare into their ...
Difference between white and albino tigers
I have written about white and albino tigers before in separate articles. This addresses one issue: the difference between them ...
Bengal tiger in the snows of Bhutan
Yes, Bengal tigers can and do live in snow. The important point in this discussion is that we know that ...
Bengal tiger leaps into the Bay of Bengal and to freedom
This is a screenshot from a video, provided by Parveen Kaswan, of a Bengal tiger being released from a boat ...
Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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