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Scientific Classification
Binomial name
Panthera tigris

Tigers (Panthera tigris) are mammals of the Felidae family, one of four 'big cats' that belong to the Panthera genus. Tigers are predatory carnivores.

Most tigers live in forests (for which their camouflage is ideally suited) and grasslands. Of all the big cats, only the tiger and Jaguar are strong swimmers, and tigers may often be found bathing in ponds, lakes and rivers. Tigers hunt alone, and their diet consists primarily of medium-sized herbivores such as Barking Deer, Sambar, Elk, Chital, Swamp Deer, Red Deer, Rusa Deer, wild pigs and Bison, but they will also take larger prey if the circumstances demand it.

There are eight separate subspecies of tiger, three of which are extinct and one of which is almost certain to become so in the near future. Their historical range (severely diminished today) ran through Russia, Siberia, Iran and Afghanistan, India, China and South-East Asia, including the Indonesian islands.

Bengal Tiger.

Different subspecies of tiger have somewhat different characteristics. In general, male tigers may weigh between 150 and 310 kilograms and females between 100 and 160. The males are between 2.6 and 3.3 metres in length, and the females are between 2.3 and 2.75 metres in length. Of the more common subspecies, Corbetts Tigers are the smallest and Amur Tigers the largest.

The ground of the coat may be any colour from yellow to orange/red, with white areas on the chest, neck, and the inside of the legs. A common recessive variant is the white tiger, which may occur with the correct combination of parents. Black or melanistic tigers have been reported, but no live specimen has ever been recorded. Also in existence are golden tabby tigers(also called golden tigers or tabby tigers) which have a golden hue, much lighter than the colouration of normal tigers, and stripes that are brown. This variation in colour is very rare, and only a handful of golden tabby tigers exist nowadays, all in captivity.

White Tiger.

The stripes of most tigers vary from brown/grey to pure black, although white tigers have far less apparent stripes. The form and density of stripes differs between subspecies, but most tigers have in excess of 100 stripes. The now extinct Javan Tiger may have had far more than this. The pattern of stripes is unique to each individual animal, and thus could potentially be used to identify individuals, much in the same way as fingerprints are used to identify people. This is not, however, a preferred method of identification, due to the difficulty of recording the stripe pattern of a wild tiger. It seems likely that the purpose of stripes is camouflage, serving to hide these animals from their prey (few large animals have colour vision as capable as that of humans, so the colour is not so great a problem as one might suppose).

A Bengal Tiger

Table of contents
1 Tigers in literature
2 See also
3 External links and references

Tigers in literature

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
Through the forrest of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
William Blake, The Tyger, Songs of Experience

The tiger has certainly managed to appeal to man's imagination. Both Rudyard Kipling in The Jungle Books and William Blake in his Songs of Experience depict him as a ferocious, fearful animal. In The Jungle Books, Shere Khan is the biggest and most dangerous enemy of Mowgli, the uncrowned king of the jungle. Even the cutesy Bill Watterson comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, Hobbes sometimes escapes his role of cuddly animal. At the other end of the scale there's Tigger, the tiger from A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories, who is always happy and never induces fear.

See also

External links and references

Tiger is also: