Basic Facts About Tigers
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The tiger is the largest member of the felid (cat) family. They sport long, thick reddish coats with white bellies and white and black tails. Their heads, bodies, tails and limbs have narrow black, brown or gray stripes. There were once nine subspecies of tigers: Bengal, Siberian, Indochinese, South Chinese, Sumatran, Malayan, Caspian, Javan and Bali. Of these, the last three are extinct, one is extinct in the wild, and the rest are endangered.
Tigers mainly eat ambar deer, wild pigs, water buffalo and antelope. Tigers are also known to hunt sloth bears, dogs, leopards, crocodiles and pythons as well as monkeys and hares. Old and injured tigers have been known to attack humans and domestic cattle.
In the early 1900s, there were around 100,000 tigers throughout their range. Today, an estimated total of around 3,000-4,500 exist in the wild. Below is a breakdown of tiger numbers by subspecies.
Bengal tiger: Less than 2,000
Indochinese tiger: 750-1,300
Siberian tiger: Around 450
Sumatran tiger: 400-500
Malayan tiger: 600-800
South Chinese tiger: Extinct in the wild
Caspian tiger: Extinct
Javan tiger: Extinct
Bali tiger: Extinct
Historic tiger range ran from Turkey through South and Southeast Asia to the far eastern shores of the continent. Today, they are only found in South and Southeast Asia, China and the Russian Far East.
Tigers occupy a variety of habitats from tropical forests, evergreen forests, woodlands and mangrove swamps to grasslands, savannah and rocky country. They are mostly nocturnal (more active at night) and are ambush predators that rely on the camouflage their stripes provide. Tigers use their body weight to knock prey to the ground and kills with a bite to the neck. They are also very good swimmers and have been known to kill prey while swimming.
Tigers essentially live solitary lives, except during mating season and when females bear young. They are usually fiercely territorial and have and mark their large home ranges.
Mating Season: In tropical climates, mostly from around November to April; during the winter months in temperate regions.
Gestation: 103 days.
Litter size: 3-4 cubs.
Cubs follow their mother out of the den at around 8 weeks and become independent at around 18 months of age. They leave their mothers at about 2 ½ years. Mothers guard their young from wandering males that may kill the cubs to make the female receptive to mating.