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Wild Things: Tigers

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Which cat is bigger, a lion or a tiger? Find out below…

Physical Characteristics

Contrary to what many people may believe, lions are not necessarily “kings” of the jungle – at least, not when it comes to size. In fact, tigers are the largest of the four big cats, and are longer and heavier than their lion cousins. Togers can reach up to 4 m in length and weigh a whopping 660 pounds! Their most recognizable feature is the pattern of dark, vertical stripes that overlays their near-white to reddish-orange fur. Most tigers have over 100 stripes on their bodies and, if you shave a tiger, you’ll still see the stripe pattern on its skin.

Tigers are known for their dark stripesTigers are known for their dark stripes

One well-known mutation that occurs within the tiger species produces a white tiger. While these cats are not albino, they are off-white or cream in color with lighter (brown stripes), pink noses and blue eyes.

Some of the subspecies of tiger are: Bengal tigers (India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Burma), Indochinese or Corbett’s tigers (Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam), Malayan tigers (southern Malay Peninsula), Siberian tigers (far eastern Siberia) and South China tigers.

Hunting Habits

The word “tiger” actually comes from the Greek word “tigris,” which means arrow. It’s easy to link this to the animal’s speed. Also, being the heaviest cat in the wild, tigers are able to pull down and kill prey much heavier than themselves.

In the wild, tigers mainly feed on larger and medium-sized animals – some even prey on leopards. Depending on where they live, tigers will eat buffalo, boar, pythons, crocodiles, deer, moose, elk, antelope, yak, wild horses, monkeys, hares and fish. For fibre, tigers will sometimes eat vegetation – their favourite is the fruit of the Slow Match Tree.

Home and Habitat

Tigers are highly adaptive creatures, and range from freezing-cold Siberia to tropical mangrove swamps. You can find them living in western India, China, Southeast Asia, Siberia and on one large island called Sumatra.

No matter where in the world, typical tiger digs need to have three main features: good cover, close to water and plenty of prey to satisfy the tiger’s huge appetite.

Social Studies

Like jaguars and leopards, but unlike lions, tigers are highly territorial and mainly solitary animals that require large areas of land to support their hunting habits.

Conservation Status

Some modern tiger species are already extinct, while others are highly endangered due to the destruction of their habitat and human hunters.

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