Tiger Facts

Two friendly tigers together next to a waterfall

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Tiger facts should be succinct and selective as this is a very large subject. The facts should also be in rough order of priority so that the most important are seen first. Facts about the tiger should satisfy people searching for the information. Market research informs me that people mostly search for facts about the Siberian tiger and the Bengal tiger despite the fact there are nine subspecies of tiger, four of which are extinct. I present the tiger facts in bullet fashion for both ease and speed of reading. These tiger facts are aimed at “middle ground” interest – beyond basics and short of academics.

The sources are: (1) Me (2) The WildCats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist (3) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (Red List) and (4) General internet searches (5) Oxford University.

Founding tigerSubspeciesBody partsWeight
ThreatsWhite & Blue tigersWaterSolitary
StripesJumpPreyCoexist with
CommunicationFarming tigersKilling techniques

  1. It is thought that all tigers come from the Siberian tiger. The Caspian tiger “is only one letter of genetic code separated from Siberian Tiger DNA”5.
  2. At 2010, the current, living tiger subspecies are: Bengal, Siberian (habitat), Sumatran, Indochinese, Malayan.
  3. The extinct tiger subspecies are: South China, Bali, Caspian and Javan. More tiger facts: Subspecies.
  4. Population: At 2010, there are estimated to be about 3,000 Bengal tigers in the wild and 400 Siberian tigers in the wild as at 2010. The population of the Siberian tiger is said to be stable. The Bengal tiger population is falling as has been the case for a century and more. Estimates are often inaccurate and on the optimistic side.
  5. The global population of all adult tiger subspecies is estimated to be about 3,000–5,0003. The number of tigers that are able to reproduce (viable) is about 40% of this figure. The number of “viable mature tiger individuals” is estimated to be 1,225–2,0263 in the world. Tiger population of India.
  6. There are said to be an estimated 12,000 captive tigers in the USA, by contrast.
  7. As a consequence, tiger conservation is the most important fact about this wildcat.
  8. The tiger has been classified as “Endangered” by the Red List since 1986 – is this correct bearing in mind the steep fall in population over that period? International cooperation is required to save the tiger. This is a developing theme. But can it work and is it too little too late? Putin likes tigers – this may help! More tiger facts: Tiger Conservation.
  9. The main threats today are (a) the value placed on tiger body parts in Asian medicine leading to uncontrolled poaching (b) habitat loss (e.g. loss of forest for the Sumatran tiger), (c) lack of space – reserves too small and ill managed (d) mismanagement (India’s Project Tiger). In the past they were simply shot for sport – example: Colonel Rice shot 158 tigers between 1850 and 18542. See more tiger facts on threats.
  10. The tiger has had to find “new territory” to escape the human who persecutes it, retreating to the lower Himalayas in Bhutan, above 4,000 feet, an astonishing recent discovery. The tigers of Bhutan may represent a last stand in the conservation of this most popular of animals.
  11. Tigers are adaptable however and live in a wide range of habitat types from tropical lowland evergreen forest and monsoon forest (Malaysia) to scrub oak and birch woodlands (Siberia). Their habitat has shrunk and is fragmented being largely confined to reserves.
  12. Habitat/range: The tiger lives in Asia from India (in the west) to the area around Vladivostok, Russia in the east. See Siberian tiger habitat and Bengal tiger habitat. See tiger distribution for its range.
  13. Tiger facts – territory: land tenure is flexible adjusted to suit circumstances. Male ranges overlap female ranges. Range sizes vary enormously from 20 km² (female in prey rich area) to 1,000 km² in the coniferous forests of the far east of Russia (Siberian male tiger).
  14. The tiger can cope with a wide range of climatic conditions as evidenced by it living in the snow in Siberia and the hot humid forest in Sumatra – Sumatran tiger.
  15. A keenly important tiger fact is that this top predator has been both admired and feared throughout humankind’s history. The tiger has been “used as a symbol of man’s deepest fears, desires and aspirations”2. A golfer’s middle name is Tiger – see Tiger Woods House!. Many sports teams are named after the tiger.
  16. This admiration can be expressed in a desire to use the tiger’s body parts to improve peoples’ lives by way of Asian medicine. This results in the killing of tigers.
  17. As tigers become more scarce, the body parts become more valuable and poaching intensifies. This is a downward spiral. Tiger bone and tiger penis are very valuable indeed.
  18. Tiger facts: Farming tigers – Tigers are farmed for their body parts – the beautiful dignity of this proud animal is crushed.
  19. The tiger is “the only striped cat”2. This should be worded, “only striped wildcat” surely as the mackerel tabby domestic cat is striped.
  20. The stripes are high contrast designed for maximum effect in twilight forest cover. The tiger’s appearance is very distinctive. Like a finger print an individual tiger’s stripes are unique to that cat.
  21. The tiger is the largest felid (cat) other than the artificially created hybrid the Liger – see world’s biggest cat.
  22. The Siberian tiger is the largest of the tiger subspecies. Accurate documentation of weight seems to be hard to come by however. There are estimates; one being at least 300 kg2. The heaviest recorded male Bengal tiger weight is 258.2 kilograms2. See WildCat Species by Size. It is said that the male Siberian tiger weighs between 180–306 kg (400–670 lb). Females weigh 100–167 kg (220–370 lb)4. The Siberian tiger up to about 4 inches taller than the Bengal tiger4.
  23. There have been accounts of black (melanistic) tigers but there are no skins at 20102.
  24. White & Blue tiger facts: There are white tigers sometimes referred to as snow tigers and there are blue tigers too. White tigers (now only in captivity?) are not albinos. They all originate from a single founding white tiger, Mohan, captured in Madhya Pradesh, India in 1951. There has been considerable inbreeding to produce these white tigers to the detriment of the tigers’ health (eye weakness, swayback and twisted neck2). More tiger facts: Tiger description.
  25. Tigers are one the roaring cats. The tiger roar comes from the construction of the tiger’s skull and larynx. One scientist says that the tiger is not a genuine roaring cat. The others are lion, leopard and jaguar.
  26. Tigers like the water (stay cool) and are excellent swimmers. They are one of the water cats.
  27. When obliged to do so, tigers can jump exceedingly well (e.g. climbing smooth barked tree of 10 meters in height2).
  28. In west Asia, tigers coexist with leopards which are subordinate and Asiatic dogs which in groups are a real danger to the tiger.
  29. In Russia it is said that tigers coexist with brown bears. The bears “displace” the tigers and possibly kill them2.
  30. Tiger become nocturnal in many places to avoid people.
  31. However, where allowed by humans, the tiger hunts at anytime of the day or night2.
  32. Tiger facts – prey: A well known tiger fact is that large animals are the “mainstay” of their diet. Although they can live off smaller prey (e.g. monkeys) in the short term.
  33. The tiger is as “wrestler” able to overpower prey several times its own size2. Some prey such as moose and gaur can weigh up to 1000 kg – up to seven times tiger weight.
  34. Tigers “will kill any animal that puts itself in a vulnerable position…few are immune to tiger predation..”2
  35. Tigers catch and eat a wide range of prey  – “frogs to elephant calves”2. Prey includes the following: birds, fish, mice, locusts, moose, monkeys, bears, leopards, lynx, wolves, foxes, sambar, chital, barking deer, gaur, domestic livestock, wild pigs, domestic buffalo, cows, spotted deer, barasingha (large deer),  hog deer,  red deer, sika deer, goral, pet dogs, porcupines, badgers, 
  36. Tigers use cover to get as close as possible to prey and attack fiercely over a short distance (c.f. the cheetah which uses speed in open territory).
  37. Another tiger fact is that they frequently hunt using tracks and paths in an area they know well (favorite hunting area) and they hunt for long periods at one time – e.g. all night if hunting at night.
  38. Siberian tigers avoid hunting in deep snow. They can starve to death under prolonged deep snow conditions.
  39. Tigers use two killing techniques…small prey: bite to back of neck breaking spinal cord (domestic cat uses same technique). Large prey: throat bite to crush prey’s trachea (windpipe).
  40. Prey is taken to cover and eating starts at the rump.
  41. The tiger is very strong; able to move very large carcasses over long distances. In one case a gaur carcass that 13 men could not move was dragged away by a single tiger2.
  42. Tiger facts – solitary: One of the well known tiger facts is that they hunt and live by themselves (c.f. lion prides). Communication with other tigers is through vocalisations, scratchings (visual signal) and scent marks. More tiger facts on social organisation. “…the lives..are largely governed and regulated by a complicated amalgam of chemical and visual signals”2.
  43. Tiger vocalisations include: roar, pruten, growl, snarl, moan, meow, spit, hiss, coughing snarl (used when attacking). See cat sounds for more on cat vocalisations generally.
  44. Reproductively active females come into estrus about every 25 days.
  45. Females in estrus (in captivity) signal their condition by increased calling, rolling and rubbing on objects.
  46. Where food is plentiful the female tiger may only be sexually receptive once every 2 years, thereby limiting the mating opportunities for males. See a detailed timetable on reproduction and development.
  47. Captive tigers can live for 26 years approximately. In the wild a female is lucky to reach 15 years of age.
  48. It is said by me that the tiger would win in a lion vs tiger fight. A hypothetical state of affairs.

Associated Pages:

Saber Tooth Tiger

Recommended for the serious student of wildcats:

External Links:

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