Tigers are arguably the most well-known big cat in the world. They also happen to be the largest. Often looked at as one of the most beautiful, yet aggressive animals in the world, for thousands of years people have been incredibly interested in the tiger.
We love them for their sheer beauty, interesting behaviors, and phenomenal power, but how much do we actually know?
Sadly, the tiger is also one of the most endangered species in the world. Due to deforestation, habit destruction, and poaching, tiger numbers have dwindled in recent years.
With conservation efforts helping to increase numbers once again, now’s the time to learn more about this wonderful animal.
The fact you’re here would suggest you love tigers just as much as we do. If you do, you’ve come to the perfect place. In this post, we want to show you 20 amazing facts that you need to know about tigers.
We’ll look at the most interesting things, the most mind-blowing things, and some of the saddest things that are affecting the tiger population.
Buckle yourself in for the ride if you want to learn more!
1. Tigers Are The Largest Of The Big Cats
You may already have known before visiting this post that the tiger is the largest big cat in the world, but do you know just how much bigger they are?
Incredibly, there are subspecies of tigers that can grow up to an astonishing 10 feet long, weighing a whopping 660 lbs.
To put into context just how big that is, a male lion only reaches lengths of 7 feet at most and a weight of just 420 lbs. That means some species of tigers can grow to be 3 feet longer than the lion and weigh almost 200 lbs more.
Compared to humans, one Bengal tiger is the equivalent of six fully grown, average-sized men.
2. Tigers Have Been Around For A Very Long Time
Studies have shown that tigers have walked the earth for at least 2 million years. However, their ancestors may have been walking around approximately 20 million years ago in the form of Pseudaelurus (a prehistoric cat).
The reason we know today’s tigers walked the earth 2 million years ago is thanks to the earliest set of tiger fossils found in South Asia.
These fossils showed that the tiger we know today, albeit slightly different in appearance, were definitely present during this period in time.
3. Tigers Are Now Endangered Because Of Us
Despite being around for 2 million years, as a result of human interference, the tiger population has shrunk by almost 95% in the last 150 years.
Just 100 years ago, there were approximately 100,000 wild tigers. Now, it is estimated that just over 4,000 tigers still live in the wild.
The main threat to the tiger’s existence is deforestation, habit destruction, and poaching. People hunt the tiger for its skin, bones, and pelts as they are very valuable on the black market and in traditional Chinese medicines.
4. A Tiger’s Punch Could Decapitate Prey
As if we didn’t already know how powerful the tiger was, a single swipe from its front paw is believed to be enough to kill or even decapitate an animal. When we look at the tiger’s sheer size, it actually makes a lot of sense.
Thanks to big, muscular front and hind legs, the tiger has the ability to unleash its strength on its prey. Whether it be to chase the prey down or simply incapacitate it, the tiger’s ability to throw its weight forwards leaves its victim helpless.
5. Most Wild Tigers Are Found In India
It might come as a surprise to you that the country with the most wild tigers is India. In fact, almost 80% of all wild tigers are found across the country.
This accounts for approximately 3,000 individuals. Thanks to excellent conservation work, this number continues to grow.
The Indian state with the most tigers is Madhya Pradesh. Here, there are over 500 big cats. Closely following is Uttarakhand which has almost 450 tigers. They tend to live in tropical, dry forests, subalpine forests, and mangrove swamps.
6. Tiger Cubs Are Blind When Born
The slow increase in the number of tigers in the wild is also the result of the lack of cubs making it to adulthood. One reason for this is that cubs are actually born blind. Newborns can’t see a thing until they are a few weeks old.
This makes their early lives very difficult, as they must follow their mother’s scent to survive. This struggle leads to almost half of all tiger cubs dying of hunger and cold. Some are also killed by other tigers.
7. Tigers Love The Water
Unlike any domestic cat, the tiger loves to spend time in the water. In fact, they will often spend a couple of hours in the water.
Aside from cooling off or rehydrating, female tigers also use the water as a good place to hunt. From an early age, mothers teach their young cubs the arts of diving for prey.
Fully grown adult tigers are so good at swimming that they can swim for up to seven kilometers in one day. Unbelievably, one tiger was once tracked swimming 30 km in one day.
8. Their Average Life Expectancy Is Roughly 25 Years
Whether a tiger lives in captivity or in the wild, its life expectancy is approximately 20 to 25 years. Having said that, most tigers tend to die before the age of 20.
In the wild, the life expectancy of a tiger also depends on a number of key factors such as habitat space, food sources, and, of course, whether any poachers operate in the area.
In captivity, tigers are given the best chance of survival and are fully provided for. The oldest living tiger in captivity was a 25-year-old called Flavel.
9. Silent, But Deadly!
Although the tiger is extremely big and very heavy, it hunts in complete silence. Often referred to as the silent hunter, the tiger’s soft toe pads allow it to move gracefully through dense forest without making any noises that will disturb or alert its prey.
If you’re unfortunate enough to find yourself being hunted by a tiger, you probably won’t know it’s there until it’s too late. Tigers will happily travel up to 12 miles during a night of hunting too, so you better keep your eyes peeled.
10. One Meal Is Enough
Tigers typically prey on deer, but they aren’t too fussy when it comes to hunting other animals like wild boar too. While they hunt in near silence, only 1 in 10 tiger hunts are successful, therefore, they often only need one kill to keep them going.
A single deer kill can easily provide a tiger with one week’s worth of food. That may not seem like a lot for such a big predator, but when you consider each deer they kill weighs roughly 88 lbs, it’s enough to fill them up.
This means a tiger usually eats 50 or more deer-sized animals a year.
11. A Tiger’s Stripes Are Also On Its Skin
A surprising fact about tigers that you probably won’t have known before this post is that tigers don’t just have stripes on their fur. No, the stripes on a tiger are also found on its skin.
Even if you were to shave a tiger, you would still see its stripes. It is actually also true that the tiger’s stripes are essentially the same thing as the human fingerprint.
The stripe pattern is unique to each tiger. So much so, that scientists and conservationists identify tigers they are tracking by looking at their stripes and taking photographs.
12. Tigers Are Solitary Animals
Not everyone is lucky enough to see tigers in the wild, so they can be quite surprised when they find out that tigers are actually very solitary. The main reason for this confusion is down to the fact that in zoos, tigers are kept together in one enclosure.
In the wild, it is very uncommon to see tigers of the same age group living side by side. Instead, tigers prefer to stay on their own. The main exception to this is when a tiger is breeding.
Normally, the tiger will live and hunt on its own, seeing any intrusion from another tiger as a threat.
13. Tigers Have A Diverse Vocal Repertoire
Contrary to popular belief, tigers actually have a large vocal repertoire. Unlike in the movies where tigers only seem to roar, all 9 species of tigers have a large variety of different noises they make.
It is believed that every noise a tiger makes means something different. Each vocalization gives the tiger a different way to communicate with other tigers.
The main vocalizations a tiger can make apart from roaring are moaning, growling, snarling, hissing, gasping, and grunting. While these noises can be amazingly interesting, we recommend getting a move on if you ever hear one in the jungle.
14. There Are More Tigers In Captivity
While it can be seen as a great thing for conservation, it is quite sad that there are actually more tigers in captivity in the United States than there are in the wild.
Luckily, these tigers are all safe in zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, but it is a shame that it has gotten to the point where we are relying on zoos to help preserve the history of one of the world’s most impressive predators.
Hopefully, in the future, this won’t be the case.
15. Humans Aren’t On The Menu
You’ll be pleased to hear that humans aren’t considered food by tigers. Yes, they may attack humans now and again, and they have been known to kill on a number of occasions, but these instances are almost always down to the fact the tiger feels threatened.
This doesn’t mean you should walk up to a tiger to say hello, but it does show that people and tigers can peacefully coexist.
In some rural areas of India, like Sawai Madhopur, tigers and people are becoming much more accustomed to each other, with some people simply waiting for the tiger to pass by before continuing with their day.
Don’t get us wrong, though, there have also been reported attacks from individuals that weren’t vigilant.
16. Tigers Don’t Purr
Although tigers are able to make a large range of different noises, they are surprisingly unable to purr. This is particularly strange when you consider that purring is a common trait amongst most cat species around the world.
There are a number of debates that have claimed tigers can’t purr, but no evidence has ever been presented to show they can. In fact, all the evidence suggests they most definitely can’t purr.
Cats purr to show their comfort, so what does a tiger do instead? Instead of purring, tigers close their eyes. This action demonstrates that the big cat feels soothed and calm.
17. Tigers Like To Mimic Other Animals
Not quite like a parrot does, but still very convincing, tigers have the impressive ability to imitate other animals. As if they didn’t already have a big enough advantage over the poor sambar deer they hunt, the tiger can also make a similar sound to the animal.
Thanks to this ability, the tiger can lure the deer over to where it lies in wait, ready to pounce. Making a ‘pook’ sound similar to the deer, the innocent creature makes its way over to the trap before being swiftly killed by the predator.
As long as they don’t start mimicking the human voice, we should be okay.
18. Tigers Prefer An Ambush
On the topic of hunting, we probably all know that most predators in the wild like to attack with surprise. Well, there is no predator that enjoys an ambush attack more than the tiger.
Thanks to their stripe camouflage, the tiger easily hides in the thick bush before attacking its victim from behind.
Tigers like to attack from behind so much that villagers in India usually wear face masks on the back of their heads. This is because the tiger is less likely to attack if it knows you’re watching.
19. Tiger Urine Smells Pretty Great
A popular belief amongst animal lovers and conservationists is that tiger urine actually smells quite good. Interestingly, the smell of a tiger’s urine is often compared to that of buttered popcorn.
A tiger’s urine is normally a territorial warning so, despite its pleasant smell, it is definitely something other tigers try to steer clear of. That is, of course, unless a tiger wants to challenge another.
20. Only 6 Species Of Tiger Still Exist
It seems only right to finish our list of facts with an important one. There were once 9 different species of tiger found in the wild. These were Bengal, Sumatran, Siberian, Indochinese, Malayan, South China, Caspian, Javan, and the Bali Tiger.
Though they once thrived, 3 species are now extinct. These are the Bali, Javan, and Caspian tigers.
These species were wiped out as a result of poaching, destruction of habitat, and deforestation. If we don’t change our ways quickly, more species of tigers could follow.
Thankfully, with evolving laws and stronger conservation efforts, we should be able to stop the tiger population decline and secure their long-term future.
There you have it, 20 amazing facts you need to know about tigers. How many facts did you already know?
Hopefully, after reading through our facts, you have a much better understanding of tigers and what makes them special. We also hope we have inspired you to learn more about this beautiful predator and help in the battle against its extinction.
As you can see from our facts, the tiger is an amazing animal with wonderful features and behaviors. By working hard together, the human race can ensure this incredible species has a positive future.