Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Tigers
Is there anyone who doesn’t find tigers fascinating? Is it because they symbolize strength, power, courage and ambition, or is it their fighting spirit? These amazing creatures have kept us enthralled throughout time, inspiring poems, novels, movies and other works of art.
Tigers are beautiful and fierce but still sometimes act like oversized kittens. Sadly, tigers are becoming extinct at a dangerous rate. There were once nine different subspecies of tigers, but three of those have since died out, while others are very close to becoming extinct.
We need to appreciate these incredible animals and do what we can to help them survive before they’re all gone. If you’re not already convinced, these fascinating facts about tigers will show you why.
Tigers Have Excellent Night Vision
Tigers are nocturnal creatures and do their hunting at night. They have larger eyes than humans, and their pupils are fixed vertically.
Tigers not only see better in the dark than humans, but they can also see farther distances. While humans can see black, white and color, tigers can only see black and white.
Tigers Get Their Best Sleep During the Day
Instead of napping many times throughout the day, tigers tend to sleep in big blocks of time. We’re talking at least 18 hours.
They need plenty of sleep to have enough energy for hunting.
Tigers Live in India, Not Africa
If you’re planning on going on an African safari, you will see plenty of animals but not any tigers.
India has the most tigers of any country, and 70 percent of the world’s tiger population lives there.
There Are Only 6 Subspecies of Tigers Remaining
These subspecies are the Sumatran, Amur, Siberian, Indian or Bengal, South China, Malayan and Indochinese tigers.
The Other 3 Subspecies Are Extinct
The Bali, Javan and Caspian tigers are all gone.
Siberian tigers are also at risk and could become extinct within the next 10 years.
Bengal (or Indian) Tigers Are the Most Famous
The tigers in “Life of Pi” and “The Jungle Book” are both Bengal tigers.
Every Tiger Has Its Own Distinct Set of Over 100 Stripes
Not only do tigers have a unique fur pattern, but that pattern is mirrored on their skin.
Tigers Are Sprint Runners
Tigers can run fast, up to 35 mph, but only for short intervals.
That’s good news for deer and antelope, who can outrun them.
Tigers Are Hypercarnivores
If something is a hypercarnivore, it means they have a 100 percent meat diet, and their digestive system can’t process fruit, plants or grasses.
Tigers eat cows, birds, bears, monkeys, lizards, crocodiles and small elephants.
A Tiger’s Kill Is Either Mercifully Fast or Painfully Slow
Tigers either kill with a quick bite to the neck through the spinal cord or by strangling their prey by squeezing their throat for approximately 10 minutes.
Tigers Are Kings of the High Jump
If you think you can just climb a tree to get away from a tiger, think again.
Mature tigers can leap more than 26 feet and jump up to 16 feet vertically.
Tigers Have Very Powerful Legs
A tiger’s hind legs are so strong that if they’re killed while standing up, they remain upright even after they’re dead.
Tigers Can Pack Away the Food
Tigers can go two weeks without eating, but when it’s time to chow down, these guys can eat 33 to 88 pounds of meat in one sitting.
In captivity, where the meals are more consistent, tigers are fed 6.6 to 13.2 pounds of meat a day.
Tigers Have Extremely Rough Tongues
Like lions, tigers use their tongues to scrape the meat off of their prey.
Tigers Clean Their Wounds With Their Tongues
A tiger’s saliva is an antiseptic that reduces the risk of infection and stops the spread of germs.
You could say their spit helps them to self-heal their surface injuries.
Eye Contact With a Tiger Could Save Your Life
Tigers prefer to hunt using the element of surprise. If you look directly at a tiger and make eye contact, you’re letting it know that you’re aware that they’re there and you’re able to prepare for an attack.
This isn’t how tigers roll, so they’ll probably look for someone else to snack on and leave you alone.
Tigers Have an Insanely Loud Roar
Anything within a 2-mile radius can hear a tiger’s roar. Tigers can manipulate their vocal cords so that it intensifies the volume while using less lung pressure.
Tigers don’t usually roar while hunting and only use it if their prey mistakenly tries to fight back.
Tigers Don’t Roar Just to Hear Themselves
Tigers don’t sit around roaring to show off. They roar when they’re trying to communicate over a long distance or when they need to establish some boundaries.
They do, however, practice their vocalizations in the same way a singer warms up before a performance. Instead of singing scales and doing tongue-twisters, tigers practice roaring, hissing, moaning, growling and huffing.
Tigers Can Live in Several Different Habitats
Jungles aren’t the only place you’ll find tigers — they also live in rainforests, grasslands, savannas and swamps.
Tiger Pee Has the Familiar and Not Unpleasant Smell of Popcorn
If you’re out in the wild and you smell popcorn, don’t think you’ve wandered into a hidden cinema.
This familiar smell is an indication that a tiger has marked their territory and other tigers need to keep out.
Tigers Are Good at Doing Impressions
One of the tiger’s special talents is that it can mimic other animal sounds.
When they imitate another animal, it helps disguise the tiger’s approach, so by the time the animal realizes it’s not one of their own, the tiger is already too close.
Tigers Don’t Purr
Tigers close their eyes when they feel safe, calm and content.
Tigers Like to Swim
While most domestic cats hate swimming, tigers are big fans of cooling off in streams and pools of water.
Some even take a dip as a way to chill out after a successful hunt.
Tigers Have Fake Eye Markings on the Back of Their Heads
These markings or eyespots may have two purposes; one is to fool and the other is to show dominance. If a tiger takes a drink of water from a stream, they’re in a vulnerable position, but no one’s going to attack them if they see the fake eyes — they’ll think the tiger is looking right at them.
Another theory is that when a tiger is threatened, they pull their ears back to reveal the eyespots as if to say, “Back off, or you’ll be sorry.”
Tigers Pack a Powerful Punch
You don’t want to get in a brawl with a tiger, as their punches are as powerful as their bite.
A single punch from a tiger could shatter your bones and kill you.
Tigers Don’t Have a Sweet Tooth
While tigers do have taste buds, they have no taste for sweet treats.
So, keep your candies, cookies, cakes and desserts for yourself. Tigers can’t enjoy them.
Tigers Are Generous With Their Kill
Unlike lions who don’t want to share their food with anyone, tigers happily share with other tigers.
Not only that, but they also let the female tigers and cubs eat first.
Female Tigers Are Only Fertile for a Limited Time
Once a year, for only four to five days, a tigress is fertile.
Within this short window of time, the female must mate with as many male tigers as possible to hopefully get pregnant and continue the species.
Tigers Win the Honor of ‘Largest Cats on Earth’
A tiger may not be as tall as a male lion, but they outweigh them. Lions weigh anywhere from 330 to 570 pounds, whereas tigers can weigh 220 to 933 pounds.
The heaviest tiger on record was a Siberian tiger named “Jaipur,” who weighed 1,025 pounds.
Tigers Can Learn a Lot From Smelling Each Other’s Urine
Just one sniff and a tiger can find out about another tiger’s age, gender and whether they’re able to have babies.
In Some Cultures, Tigers Are Considered Royal
If you look at the markings on a tiger’s forehead, they look a lot like the Chinese character for king.
A Tiger’s Claws Are Retractable
Tiger claws can grow up to 4.7 inches, and they are retractable and curved, which gives them the ability to grab and hold onto their prey while climbing up a tree.
But the curvature in their claws combined with their large body size make it difficult for tigers to climb back down.
A Group of Tigers Is Called a Streak or an Ambush
Remember it this way — if you see a tiger streak by, prepare for an ambush.
Tigers Don’t Drink Water Like Other Cats
Because of their bristly tongues, tigers don’t lap up water like other cats.
Instead, they cup the back of their tongue and use it to flick water droplets into their mouths.
Tigers Are Big Brained
They have the largest brains of almost every carnivore — only polar bears have a bigger brain than a tiger.
A Tiger’s Tail Impresses in Many Ways
Not only can a tiger’s tail grow up to a third of their body length, but it also helps them keep their balance when running.
There Are as Few as 4,000 Tigers Left in the Wild
During the last 100 years, the world has lost over 97 percent of the wild tiger population.
To learn more about tiger conservation, check out the World Wildlife Fund.