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General Tiger Information

| Classification: | Physiology: | Growth & Development: | Behavior: | Hunting: |
| Interesting Facts: | Territory | Wild Tiger Census: |

















Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Panthera
Species: tigris
Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti)
Chinese tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis)
Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)
Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae)

Lifespan: Around 15 years in the wild. Up to 25 years in captivity.
Sexual maturity: 3-4 years
Mating season: non-seasonal
Number of young: 1 to 5 (usually has 2-3 cubs per pregnancy).
Social Life Tigers are solitary animals. A group of tigers is called a 'streak'; usually it consists of a small group consisting of a mother and her cubs.

Growth & Development
Gestation: 95-112 days
Birth: Tiger cubs are initially blind when they are born (like humans and most other animals) and weigh approximately two-three pounds (one kilogram).
Neo-natal development: For the first six-eight weeks, cubs are dependent on their mother's milk.
Development: Eight weeks after birth, cubs will start joining their mother in hunting. At six months, their mother will usually break the legs or maim their prey so the cubs can learn how to kill it.
Adolescence: Tigers have fully developed canines by 16 months of age, but they do not begin making their own kills until about 18 months of age.
Maturation: Cubs are raised by their mother and stay with her for approximately 2 years. During this time, they will learn how to hunt plus acquire other behavioral traits such as grooming, sharpingly their claws, etc.
Adulthood: After 1.5 years, tigers have the ability to sustain themselves.

When leaving their mother after maturation, female tigers tend to live in an area close in proximity to their mother. Males on the other hand create much larger territories which are typically farther away (thus minimizing the chance for inbreeding).
Social Aspects: Mostly solitary, males and females only meet for mating purposes.
There are documented instances of male tigers temporarily sharing food and residing in the same location as a mother and her cubs. In these cases, the male is likely the father of the cubs.
Terminology:A group of tigers is usually only seen when a female is raising her cubs. In this case, a group of tigers is known as a "streak".
Habitat: India & Southeast Asia, Siberia, parts of China (extinct in Java). Usually, tigers are seen in swamps, savannas, grasslands, and forests.
Territorality: Males occupy territories of up to 200 sq. miles. Territories fluctuate in relation to season because of changing food abudancy and quality.

Marking: Tigers have two main methods to mark their territory. The first is using their claws to scratch marks into trees to delineate their territory borders. The second technique is leaving a scent through a mixture of urine and secretions from glands. Hunting:
Prey: Tigers eat several organisms including sambar (type of deer), antelopes, pigs and guar (type of buffalo). They take down the calves of guar though this is risky for them. Guars weigh approx. 1200 lbs and pose a physical threat to tigers. Tigers also prey on various smaller mammals including fish and monkeys.

Tigers eat quite rapaciously. They can kill the equivalent of 30 buffaloes a year, and eat 20 Kilograms (65 lbs.) of meat a night.

A technique that an older tiger uses to save strength is going under a tree that has several monkeys on it. The tiger will then make a sudden roar that usually scares at least one monkey to fall out of the tree for the tiger to kill

After a large meal, a tiger may not eat again for several days.

About 90 percent of a tiger's attempts to catch prey fail.

The only mammals known to hunt humans for food are tigers and polar bears.

It is usually tigers that are sick or wounded that hunt humans since catching fast prey is not an option for them.

However, the only place in the world where tigers habitually hunt and kill humans for food is in the swamps of Sundarbana (in the state of West Bengal), India.

In the early 20th century, one tiger is thought to have killed 436 humans fo food in the Champawat district, India. The tigress was shot by Col. Jim Corbet (d. 1955) in 1907. According to the Guiness book of Records, 1992, it's the highest fatality count for humans from an animal. The largest tiger preserve in the world (in northern India) is named after Jim Corbet.

Interesting Facts:
The Siberian tiger is the largest cat in the world, averaging a size of up to 700 lbs

The Siberian tiger is also known as the Amur or Manchurian tiger. Can jump 10 meters (33 feet) in a single leap.

Tigers are the only big cats that enjoy going into the water.

Three of the subspecies of tiger: the Caspian (Middle East and west central Asia), Balinese, and Javan (islands of Bali and Java) are now extinct from human hunting.

There are more WILD tigers in India (3500-4000), then all other tigers (wild and tame) in the rest of the world.

The roar of a Bengal tiger can be heard 2 miles away.

Domestic cats purr when breathing in and out; tigers purr only when breathing out due to their larger nasal morphology.

Tigers have stripped skin, not just stripped fur. (

In 1950 a male weighing 846.5 lbs. was shot in the Sikhole Alin Mountains, Maritime Territory, USSR (Source: Guiness book of Records 1992).

An outsized Indian tiger (Panthera rigris tigris) shot in northern Uttar Pradesh in November 1967 measured 10 ft. 7 in. between pegs (11 ft. 1 in, over the curves) and weighed 857 lbs. (compared with 9 ft. 3 in. and 420 lbs. for an average adult male). Its stuffed body is now on display in the Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (Source: Guiness book of Records 1992).

The largest tiger ever held in captivity, and the heaviest "big cat" on record, is a nine-year-old Siberian male named Jaipur, owned by animal trainer Joan Byron-Marasek of Clarksburg, NJ. This specimen measured 10 ft. II in. in total length and weighed 932 lbs. in October 1986 (Source: Guiness book of Records 1992).

An adult male litigon (a hybrid of an Indian lion and a tigon-itself the offspring of a tiger and a lioness) named Cubanacan at Alipore Zoological Gardens, Calcutta, India is also believed to weigh at least 800 lbs. This animal stands 52 in. at the shoulder (compared with 44 in. for the lion Simba) and measures a record 111/2 ft. in total length, This animal, the first and only one of its kind, was reported to have died on 12 Apr. 1991 (Source: Guiness book of Records 1992).

Each tiger has it's own territory. Male territories don't overlap with each other though a male territory may encompass several female territories (this is signifant in terms of tiger mating).
A tigers territory usually varies from 15 to 120 square miles depending on gender, season and amount of prey. A male's territory is usually much larger than a female's territory.
Territories are marked by spraying plants/trees through a urine and scent gland combination and through leaving their feces.
Territories also are marked through scratch marks on trees (this is also done to sharpen their claws).
Siberian tigers may have a territory up to to 300-400 square miles due to their limited population size resulting in little competition between Siberian tigers. Their large territories are also a result of minimal prey.

Current Status of Wild Tigers:
Tiger Sub-Species
Minimum Estimate
Maximum Estimate
Bengal Tiger
Indo-Chinese Tiger
Sumatran Tiger
Siberian Tiger
South Chinese Tiger
Caspian Tiger
Javan Tiger
Balinese Tiger

People typically report maximum tiger populations greater than what is stated here. Those estimates are gross exaggerations, typically the result of two things: inaccurate population tracking by counting pug marks of tigers (a flawed method of analyzing tiger numbers); and inflated number documentation of tigers by census takers to justify their work and suggest that tigers are in good shape.

Copyright 2000-1 by Sheel Walvekar