Tigers are cats, but they grow much larger than a normal house cat. Some male tigers can grow to be 12 feet long and weigh 600 pounds.
What do tigers look like?
Male tigers can reach a shoulder height of almost one meter. The females are slightly smaller and usually weigh 100 kilograms less than the males. Tigers have the typical round cat face with long whiskers over the mouth.
Their fur is reddish-yellow to rust-red on their back and legs and has black-brown stripes. Only the belly, the inside of the legs, the sideburns, and the areas around the eyes are completely white. Even the tiger’s tail, which can grow to almost a meter long, is cross-striped.
Where do tigers live?
A hundred years ago, 100,000 tigers lived in a large area that stretched almost across Asia. Their home ranged from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Siberian taiga in the north and east and to the Indonesian islands of Java and Bali in the south. Today, tigers are found only in India, Siberia, Indochina, southern China, and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. About 5,000 tigers are said to live in these areas.
The tiger lives in the jungle. He sneaks silently through the undergrowth. The tiger does not like open areas where other animals can see it. That’s why he prefers to stay in the dense forest and prefers shady and damp hiding places. If he has to leave the shelter of the trees, he hides in the tall grass or in the reeds.
What types of tigers are there?
Experts know eight tiger subspecies: The Bengal tiger or royal tiger comes from India. The Sumatran tiger lives on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The Indochina tiger from the jungles of Burma, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
The Siberian tiger hunts in the taiga and the South China tiger in southern China. The Indochina tiger, the Siberian tiger, and the South China tiger are threatened with extinction today. Three other tiger breeds, the Bali tiger, the Java tiger, and the Caspian tiger, are already extinct.
How old do tigers get?
Tigers can live up to 25 years. But most die between the ages of 17 and 21.
How do tigers live?
Tigers are lazy. Like all cats, they love to doze off and lounge around. Tigers only go to the river to drink water or to catch prey when they have to. However, tigers also love to take a cool dip in the water. Tigers are also loners. The males and females live separately.
A male tiger needs a hunting ground of about ten square kilometers. Up to six females also live in this area. They mark off their territories with scent marks and avoid each other. Males and females also avoid each other. They only meet at mating season. When the tiger has killed a prey animal, he eats until he is full. Then he hides and rests to digest.
But the tiger always comes back to the spot where the prey is lying. He eats it again and again until the prey is completely eaten. Occasionally a tiger male is also friendly: if tiger females hang around nearby, he sometimes utters certain sounds. This tells the females that the male is willing to share the prey with them and their children.
How do tigers reproduce?
During the mating season, the male courts the female. He does this with purrs and roars, with mock attacks, tender bites, and caresses. A hundred days after mating, the mother gives birth to her young in a sheltered place. She feeds her offspring with her milk for five to six weeks. After that, she feeds the young with her prey, which she vomits at first.
At the latest when the young animals are six months old, they start to follow their mother when hunting. Just six months later, they have to hunt down the prey themselves. The mother still hunts the prey and tears it to the ground. But now she leaves the death bite to her boys. At the age of one and a half years, the young males are independent. Females stay with their mothers for about three months longer. Tiger males are fertile from the age of three to four years. The females can have offspring at the age of two to three years.
How do tigers hunt?
If the prey is close enough, the tiger pounces on it. Such a jump can be ten meters long. The tiger usually lands on the back of its prey. Then he claws and kills the animal with a bite on the neck.
After that, he drags the prey to a hiding place and begins to eat. Like all cats, the tiger relies primarily on its eyes and ears. The big cats react to movements and noises at lightning speed. The sense of smell hardly plays a role.
How do tigers communicate?
Tigers can make a variety of sounds, ranging from delicate purrs and meows to deafening roars. The loud roar is used as a deterrent or to intimidate rivals. With purring and meowing, tiger males try to make the females friendly during the mating season.
Female tigers use similar sounds when training their offspring. If the tiger mama purrs, everything is fine. If she hisses or yells, her children have teased her.