Tigers are known for being the largest cat species in the world. They are powerful hunters and highly revered in many cultures. Tigers are one of the symbols of the need for wildlife conservation since their numbers in the wild have declined precipitously to under 4,000 adults.
01. Tigers are the largest felines in the world. A large tiger can weigh 600 pounds, compared to 400 pounds for a large lion. Interestingly, their offspring (called a liger) will be even larger if a male lion and a female tiger mate. Ligers typically weigh around 800 pounds.
02. White tigers are not a separate species. They are merely tigers with white instead of orange stripes. They are rare because the gene that causes the white instead of orange is recessive.
03. Tigers have very good eyesight, especially at night. They can see about six times better at night than humans.
04. Lions live in groups called pride, which can number up to forty individuals. Adult tigers live alone.
05. Tigers are primarily ambushing predators. They can reach top speeds of around 35 miles per hour but cannot sustain that speed for very long. Only about one in ten hunting attempts succeed. In most cases, the prey detects the tiger’s presence before it can get close enough to launch an attack.
06. Lions, jaguars and leopards were once thought to be the closest living relatives of the tiger. Modern DNA analysis has shown that tigers are most closely related to snow leopards. Tigers and snow leopards split off from the other big cats about 3.9 million years ago. Tigers and snow leopards split about 3.2 million years ago.
07. Unlike most felines, tigers are strong swimmers and not opposed to water. In the mangrove forests of the Sunderbans (The area around the Bangladesh-India border on the Bay of Bengal), tigers are often spotted swimming from one island to another.
08. Tigers once ranged from eastern Turkey to Siberia. Today their habitat has been reduced by over 90%, and their remaining populations are highly fragmented.
09. India has over half of the wild tiger population. The Jim Corbett National Park in northern India is home to over 200 tigers.
10. Tiger cubs are born only three months after conception. They depend on their mother for the next two years before becoming independent.
Tigers are magnificent animals that are under threat in the wild. They are powerful hunters but need a good habitat with plenty of prey animals. What habitat they have left has become highly fragmented. Tigers need help from humans to maintain viable wild populations.