They’re one of the most fascinating types of cats on the planet, and in this post, you’ll discover our list of top 10 facts about tigers.
1. It’s the largest cat on the planet
Tigers are the biggest cats on the planet. It has an average length of about 3.9 meters (12.79 feet) and stands about 1.27 meters (4.16 feet) tall.
With this huge body size, it weighs on average between 90 and 309 kilos, with a huge difference in size and weight between male and female tigers. The heaviest tiger ever recorded weighed about 324.3 kilos (714.95 lbs)!
With these stats, tigers are bigger than their Panthera family members the lion, the jaguar, the mountain lion, and the leopard (in that order).
2. Tigers are apex predators
These cats are on top of the food chain, which simply means that there aren’t any natural predators actively hunting them.
Unfortunately, even without natural predators, the tiger has lost nearly 94% of its historic range which used to start in Eastern Turkey and run all the way to the coast of the Sea of Japan, as well as all through South Asia to the islands of Sumatra, Java, and Bali in Indonesia.
This means that the tiger is listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List since 1986. The global tiger population is estimated to be somewhere between 3,062 and 3,948, down from nearly 100,000 in the early 20th century.
3. Tigers are amazing swimmers
Have you ever tried to bathe your pet cat? Then you surely know that domestic cats don’t like the water, a character trait that most felids share.
Unlike many of their felid counterparts, tigers actually love the water and can often be seen taking a refreshing bath in ponds, lakes, or rivers.
Apart from enjoying a nice relaxing bath, tigers are some of the best swimmers you’ll ever come across. They don’t have a problem crossing a river or swimming for extended periods of time.
They have been observed to cross rivers between 6 and 8 kilometers wide and it’s estimated they can swim up to 29 kilometers in a single day!
4. It’s the national animal of 4 different countries
Tigers have fascinated humans for numerous centuries and still do today. This animal has been featured in mythology and folklore in ancient times, in literature, and in media in modern times, and is still used to represent power and glory all around the world.
Tigers are often used in flags, coats of arms, and even as mascots for sporting teams. One of the most remarkable facts about tigers is that they’re also the national animal of 4 different countries:
- South Korea
And let’s not forget the tiger seen by millions of people worldwide every single morning, Tony the Tiger, the famous mascot for Kellogg’s breakfast cereal Frosted Flakes!
5. These are the tiger’s closest family members
The closest family members of the tiger are their Panthera counterparts the lion, jaguar, leopard, and snow leopard.
Studies have shown that the tiger and snow leopard actually diverged from the Panthera lineage together about 2.88 million years ago. This means that the snow leopard is actually the closest relative to the tiger.
The geographic origin of the tiger is believed to be Central Asia, and it spread throughout Southeast Asia during the Miocene Period, about 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago.
6. Hybrids are called Tigons or Ligers
Even though the practice has been considered to be pointless and unethical, some animal owners have been experimenting with breeding tigers and lions to create a new hybrid species.
The result is a new hybrid animal referred to as either “tigons” or “ligers,” and these animals share an equal number of physical and behavioral treats from both parent species.
7. There are black and white tigers
The most common color variants of the general tiger we know are either white, golden, and snow-white without stripes.
But did you know there is something called a “black tiger” as well? This is caused due to a condition called pseudo-melanism which results in the white tiger having a reverse color effect.
8. Adult tigers are solitary animals
Cubs usually stay with their mothers until they are about 2 years old, and after that, adult tigers live solitary lives. They establish their territory and roam around in it to look for food.
One of the strangest facts about tigers is that they aren’t always solitary. Scientists are sometimes baffled when they see adult tigers share their prey with other adults who they usually consider to be enemies invading their territory.
This behavior is quite rare though, and especially young adults who are establishing their territory aren’t too keen to socialize, resulting in a high mortality rate of about 30-35% due to territorial bouts erupting now and then.
9. Tigers can make funny faces
These large cats are territorial animals and they mark their territory with urine. Adult male tigers often fiercely protect their territory from other adult males, a trait not as potent in adult females who might just avoid other females if they enter their particular territory.
To understand the territories of the various animals living in the area, they go about smelling the urine. One of the funniest facts about tigers is that they make a funny face if this happens.
This face is referred to as a flehmen response. The tiger curls back its upper lip and show its upper teeth. This is something common among many mammals, especially felids and ungulates.
10. Tigers sometimes eat peacocks
The tiger usually hunts at night, but when humans are not around, they can hunt just as well in the daytime as well. Their most favorite food is wild boar, wapiti, all sorts of deer, and all sorts of ungulates.
They are also capable of killing large prey such as an adult gaur, which is basically an Indian bison! The only other animal that is capable of killing a gaur is the saltwater crocodile.
Tigers hunt alone and ambush their prey before lashing out, and if the large goodies aren’t available, they simply resort to hunting smaller prey. This can include monkeys, birds, and even peafowl!