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Tiger

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The tiger is scientifically known as Panthera Tigris. It is the largest extant species of cat, and it is from the Panthera genus.

It is very popular due to its dark vertical marks on its brownish-orange coat with a light-colored underside. It is regarded as an apex predator, and it mostly preys on herbivores such as the wild boar and deer.

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The tiger is a territorial species that is a solitary but social cat. They thrive in vast areas of habitat with an abundance of prey and are compatible with rearing offspring.

At a point, the tiger ranged widely from the Eastern Anatolia Region to the Amur River basin. Since the early 20th century, the tigers’ population has lost a great part of its historic range.

Presently, their range is segmented, and it stretches from the temperate forests of Siberia. It also extends to the tropical and subtropical forests on the Indian subcontinent and Sumatra. The tigers are among the most well-known and distinct animals in wildlife. They are widely revered as a symbol of beauty.

They appear on many flags, coat of arms, and as mascots for many sporting teams. The tiger is also the national animal of countries such as Bangladesh, South Korea, and Malaysia. The tiger species have three color variations, which include golden, stripeless snow-white, and white.

The stripeless snow-white seldom occur in wildlife due to the decline in wild tiger populations. It is more occurring in captive populations.

Table of Contents

Scientific Classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderCarnivora
SuborderFeliformia
FamilyFelidae
SubfamilyPantherinae
GenusPanthera
SpeciesP. Tigris
Scientific namePanthera Tigris

Description

The tiger is powerfully built, having muscular forelimbs, a massive head, and a long tail. The tiger’s tail is roughly half of its body length.

Its coloration differs between shades of brown and orange with white ventral stripes and distinct vertical black stripes.

This black stripes, just like that of the ocelot, is a unique print. This means every tiger has a peculiar stripe or marking that identifies it.

These stripes are utilized for camouflaging in areas with tall grasses and strong vertical patterns of shade and light. The orange hue also helps the tiger disguises itself and succeeds in deceiving the prey.

The pattern of the tiger isn’t restricted to the fur, and it comes from the inner skin. This is why the pattern is still visible even when the coat is shaved off.

The stubble and follicles of hair embedded in the skin are responsible for such patterning. This coat pattern is similar to the human stubble and is also normal with other large cats.

Around their jaws and necks, there is a dense growth of fur, resembling a mane of sorts. The tigers have long whiskers, particularly the males. Its irises are yellowish with a circular pupil.

Their ears are small and rounded, with a noticeable white spot on the back. The spots play an essential role in intraspecific communication. The tiger’s teeth are relatively stout, and their canines are partly curved.

Their canines are the longest among existing felids, with a peak length of up to 3.5 inches.

Size

The male tigers are notably larger than their female counterparts. The variance in size between both genders is proportionally bigger in the subspecies of large tigers.

The tigers almost weigh up to double the size of the tigresses. They also have broader forepaws, enabling you to identify the gender from the tracks on the ground easily.

The male usually has a body length within the range of 2.5 to 3.5 meters. Their body weight ranges from 90 to 300 kilograms, and skull length varies from 316 to 383 millimeters.

The females have a body length ranging between 2 to 2.75 meters and weigh between 65 and 167 kilograms. Their skull length ranges from 268 to 318 millimeters.

Both sexes have a long tail ranging between 24 to 43 inches. In terms of shoulder height, the Siberian and Bengal tigers are among the tallest cats. They are also regarded as the biggest cats that have surpassed the 300 kilogram-mark.

The tigers native to the Sunda islands are lesser in size and weight than those in mainland Asia.

Diet

Wild tigers typically prey on large and medium-sized mammals, and they have a preference for prey within the weight range of 60 to 250 kilograms. Deers, Wapitis, Barasinghas, and Wild boar are their preferred diets.

They also hunt larger prey such as the adult gaur and relish in the opportunity to feed on less sizeable animals. Tigers feed on monkeys, peafowl, porcupines, hares, and even fish.

Like other big and wild cats, they are carnivorous creatures. Being an apex predator, its diet also extends to other predators. Tigers also prey on leopards, pythons, bears, wild dogs, and even crocodiles.

When they are in locations close to human settlements, they prey on cattle, donkeys, and horses. Occasionally, they feed on certain fruits for dietary fiber.

Habitat

The tiger has a preference for forested habitats. They thrive in locations where wild cervids, suids, and bovids are stable.

It also inhabits lowland and hilly (highland) forests. They also have a particular preference for tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, tropical dry forests, and swamp forests.

Habits

They are excellent swimmers, and they often take baths in water bodies to regulate their body temperature.

They can also hunt deep-water prey due to their swimming abilities. They cover long ranges and are widely dispersed over great distances. The adults are very solitary animals, and they have territories that they maintain.

Both sexes restrict their movements to their home ranges as long as it satiates their needs and that of their cubs. Tigers sharing a range are conscious of each other’s movements and activities.

The home range’s size is dependent on several factors, such as the availability of prey, geography, and the sex of the tiger.

Young females usually acquire their first territories close to their mother’s. Over time, the overlap between both environments lessens. In the case of the young males, they set out to acquire their territories at a more tender age.

They also migrate further than their female counterparts to establish territories. They acquire their territories by mapping out areas that other male tigers are absent from.

They also acquire territories by inhabiting a territory as transient till they are old and strong enough to challenge the resident male. For this reason, they have a higher mortality rate than females.

Their mortality rate falls between 30-35% annually. They mark territories with their scent using urine and secretions from the anal gland. They also use their claws to mark trees to announce their territories.

Reproduction

The tiger can mate at any time during the year, but they usually give birth to their cubs between March and June. Another major period for delivery of offsprings is September.

Their gestation period ranges from 93 to 114 days. A female tiger or tigress can be on oestrus or heat for about 3 to 6 days. During that narrow period, they mate with the males multiple times.

The tigress delivers the cubs to a sheltered spot, such as a place with long grasses, caves, or dense vegetation. The father doesn’t participate in the rearing of his cubs.

Their litter usually consists of about 2 to 3 cubs, but in rare cases, they can number up to 6. The cubs are born with their eyes closed, and they open when these cubs are between 6 to 14 days old. They start feeding on meat when they are up to 8 weeks old.

The female tigers lactate for a period of 5 to 6 months. Their cubs usually weigh within a range of 780 to 1600 grams. During their weaning, they move around with their mother on territorial patrols and learn how to hunt.

Conservation Status

According to the IUCN Red list, the tigers are classified as an “Endangered” species.

Sources;

Tiger – Wikipedia

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