95 Random Facts About Tigers You Probably Should Know
Tigers — the self-proclaimed spirit animal of many and also the favorite subject of those seeking a meaningful tattoo. You can find them in the Chinese zodiac, on the big and small screen, and even on your local sports team logo. But aside from their majestic beauty, peculiar striped coat, and fierce reputation, very few people can claim to know many more facts about tigers than the obvious ones.
So what do we really know about tigers? For starters, most people will be surprised to learn that tigers don’t live in Africa. They can instead be found in many Asian countries, especially India. They are considered a vulnerable species due to habitat loss and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade, with about 5,000 tigers left in the wild. But beyond their physical characteristics, cultural significance, and status as an endangered species, there are a ton of other interesting facts about tigers that you probably don’t know — and today, we’re here to let you in on some of the lesser-known but equally fascinating tidbits of tiger facts!
White tigers have enzymes that activate with cold temperatures and can make the fur grow darker.
Carnivores, such as tigers, have a simpler process for converting meat into protein, which provides them with energy, compared to herbivores, which need to convert grass. This is because carnivores do not need as many microbes in their intestines to break down plant cellulose. As a result, tigers and other carnivores have small and lightweight stomachs that do not slow them down when they are chasing after prey.
Tigers hunt on their own, not with a group. Even though they may live close to other tigers, they prefer to hunt alone. Their hunting style is quiet and sneaky, so it’s better for them to be alone.
When tigers feel safe, they close their eyes as a sign of contentment or calmness, as they cannot purr.
The belief that Bali Tigers were evil spirits led to their hunting and ultimate extinction, along with the Caspian and Javan tigers. This is a devastating fact about these majestic creatures.
Despite being highly endangered, tigers still have the largest population among big cats. The lions come in second, and the jaguars in third place.
Tigers and other cat species cannot taste sweetness because their taste buds do not recognize it. Even if they are given sweet foods or treats, they will not be able to perceive the sweetness on their tongue.
The tiger’s skull is stout and rounded, which helps to support its powerful jaws.
A group of tigers is called an ambush or streak.
India has the highest population of wild tigers, with approximately 3,000 living in the country.
Tigers can breed with other wild cats, creating hybrid breeds such as tigons (male tigers and female lions) and ligers (male lions and female tigers). Additionally, scientists believe there are likely many other wild cat hybrids that have yet to be discovered.
Although it is uncommon to observe black tigers, there have been some instances of tigers with very thick stripes giving the appearance of a completely black coat.
The Bali Tiger was last spotted in the mid-1930s. A few individuals likely survived into the 1940s and possibly 1950s.
The saliva produced by tigers contains an antiseptic protein that helps to prevent infection when the animal licks a wound. This helps tigers quickly heal their injuries and speed up recovery.
While lions do not typically share their prey with others, tigers tend to be more cooperative and share their kills with other group members, even taking turns eating to allow others to have a chance at the food.
A tiger’s roar can be heard from a distance of 3 kilometers.
India initiated Project Tiger in the 1970s to safeguard the Bengal tiger population and has continued to work toward conserving and rehabilitating these animals.
A single paw strike can crush your bones and kill you. Just in case you needed a reminder not to engage in a fistfight with a tiger.
Tigers, out of all wild cat species, are the most reserved and tend to only make loud roars for long-distance communication or when defending their territory. They also exhibit a more nurturing behavior, allowing their cubs and female partners to eat before them.
One surprising characteristic of tigers is their ability to mimic other animals’ sounds. This skill allows them to trick their prey into coming closer during hunting.
The speed at which tigers can move ranges from 49 to 65 km/h.
Tigers have existed for approximately 2.88 million years.
There have been reports of blue tigers, although there is limited evidence to support the existence of this color variation in the species. However, since the blue color trait does appear in some lynx and bobcat families, it is not entirely ruled out as a possibility.
Each tiger has a special fur pattern that is different from all other tigers. It is similar to how humans have unique fingerprints. Even if a tiger loses all its fur, its stripes will still be visible.
Tigers are big cats and eat a lot of food. They can eat around 88 pounds of meat at one time and feast on their prey for several days or bury it to eat later.
Amur tigers, when fully grown, measure approximately 3.3 m (10.9 ft) in length.
Tigers have markings on the back of their ears that look like eyes. There are two theories behind it — some believe these markings help the tiger look bigger and more alert to predators coming from behind. Others think they help the tiger with aggressive communication.
The Bengal tiger subspecies have the most stable population among all tiger subspecies, with about 2,500 living individuals.
Many tigers’ fur ranges from light yellow-orange to deep reddish-orange.
Tigers have the biggest canines of any big cat species. These teeth can be between 2.5 and 3.0 inches long. The canines also have nerves that help the tiger sense where to bite to cut the neck of its prey.
Female tigers often have litters of 3-4 cubs during their lifetime. These cubs are born blind and rely on their mother to take care of them until they are old enough to hunt on their own, which usually takes about 2-3 years.
Tigers mark their territory, which can be as large as 100km, using scent to let other tigers know they are in the area.
In the wild, tigers can live for up to 26 years.
The Sumatran tiger is the smallest of all tiger species.
The length of a tiger’s tail is approximately one meter (3 ft), and it serves to help maintain balance when the animal makes quick turns while chasing prey.
The surface of a tiger’s tongue is covered in papillae, which give it a rough and rasping texture. These papillae allow the tiger to easily strip feathers, fur, and meat from its prey.
Female Amur tigers typically weigh between 100 to 167 kg.
The bones in a tiger’s feet are tightly connected by ligaments, which help to cushion the impact of landing from running, pouncing, and leaping.
Tigers have a small clavicle bone. This helps them take bigger steps while running because the small clavicle allows the scapula to move more freely and with a wider range of movement.
Reports of white tigers being seen in the wild date as far back as the 1800s. The first white tiger was caught in India by Maharaja Martand Singh, the leader of the state of Rewa at the time. The tiger was named Mohan and was used for breeding more white tigers. Some experts think that all white tigers alive today can trace their ancestry back to Mohan, but this has not been proven yet.
Tigers are known for their love of swimming, which is unusual compared to other cat species. They often go to streams and pools to cool off, and in the wild, they have been observed swimming following a successful hunt.
There were 9 different types of tigers in the past. Now, there are only 6 left. These are the Bengal, Sumatran, South China, Indochinese, Malayan and Siberian tigers. The other 3 types, the Bali, Caspian, and Javan tigers, no longer exist. Human activity, like industrialization, has affected tigers over time.
Tigers are more active during the night, as they typically hunt and patrol their territory during this time. They tend to avoid human interaction during the day, which is why they carry out these activities at night.
There is a swamp forest along the border between Bangladesh and India where the highest number of Bengal tiger attacks on humans have been recorded. About 100 people are killed in this area annually.
Aside from their distinct stripes, tigers have glands that release unique scents. These glands allow them to mark their territories as their own.
The tiger’s incisor teeth pick small pieces of meat and feathers off the prey.
White tigers are rare and used by zoos, circuses, and private owners to make money. These businesses breed white tigers to ensure their cubs are also white. This is dangerous, as it can cause the cubs to have health problems, like crossed eyes and deformed spines, and they are generally more likely to get sick.
Saber-toothed tigers are now-extinct felids, who many believe were a type of tiger. They became extinct around 10,000 years ago and belonged to a family of cat cousins called Machairodontinae.
The Indochinese tiger is found in Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam. They tend to inhabit forests surrounded by hills and mountains, making it difficult for scientists to study them extensively. Consequently, there is less knowledge about this species compared to others.
The Malayan Tiger is very similar to the Indochinese tiger and, other than in Malaysia, they can also be found in Thailand.
The Siberian tiger is the largest subspecies of tiger, with males reaching heights of at least 11 feet and weighing an average of 660 pounds or more. Female Siberian tigers, while typically smaller than males, are still larger than other tiger subspecies.
The back teeth of a tiger are called carnassials. These teeth are specially shaped to help the tiger cut the meat off its prey, like a knife. The tiger can then swallow large pieces of this cut meat whole.
Tigers are known to be protective of the prey they have killed and will often cover the carcass with leaves, dirt, grass, or even rocks before leaving to get a drink or move to a different location. Instead of eating at the kill site, they will typically drag the prey into a more secluded area to consume.
Tigers use two main methods to kill their prey: blood loss and strangulation. They attack the neck, using their sharp teeth to puncture a major artery. This often leads to the prey’s death from blood loss within seconds. If not, the tiger will strangle the prey’s neck until it suffocates.
While it is commonly believed that white tigers are albino, this is actually not the case. Rather, the white color of these tigers is caused by recessive genes that impact their skin pigmentation, which is slightly different from albinism. Most of the tiger species that have white skin also have blue eyes.
India has a high concentration of tigers, with 75% of the global population residing in the country. Tourists can even visit locations in India where large groups of tigers can be seen. It was therefore fitting that the tiger was designated as India’s national animal in 1973.
On the black market, adult tigers can fetch a high price of $10,000, leading to the continuous occurrence of illegal tiger hunting and poaching.
Tigers can retract their claws back into a protective skin sheath when they are not being used. This is made possible by ligaments that hold the claws in place, which are relaxed when the claws are retracted. This allows the tiger to keep its claws sharp and ready for use and move quietly when stalking prey. This allows the tiger to quickly and efficiently deploy its claws when needed and retract them when they are no longer required.
Tigers have fewer teeth than other carnivores. For example, dogs have 42 teeth, while tigers only have 30.
White tigers need a lot of space to live, roam, and hunt, usually around 20 square miles. This helps them to find enough prey to survive. White tigers are easier to see than orange tigers because they stand out more in their surroundings.
Siegfried & Roy were German-American entertainers famous for their performance with white tigers in Las Vegas. However, in 2003, one of the tigers attacked Roy during a performance, ending the entertainers’ careers. Roy survived the attack.
Tigers usually only consume one main meal per week, typically a deer. However, if they have the opportunity, they will also eat other animals, such as wild boars, birds, fish, rodents, amphibians, reptiles, and insects.
Tigers native to South China are characterized by a distinctive stripe on their forehead. This stripe, said to resemble the Chinese character for “King,” is a defining feature of the South China tiger.
It’s not clear why white tigers grow bigger and at a faster rate than their orange counterparts.
Bengal male tigers are typically around 220 kg (480 lbs) and 2.9 m (9.5 ft) in length when fully grown. Females are slightly smaller, with an average weight of 140 kg (300 lbs) and a length of 2.5 m (8 ft).
White tigers sometimes have unusual reactions to anesthesia. For example, a male white tiger named Cheytan died at the San Antonio Zoo in 1992 due to complications from anesthesia during root canal therapy.
In 2013, a Bengal tiger mauled its trainer during a circus performance in Mexico. The American trainer later died from injuries, and the tiger was killed. This incident, and others like it, has caused some circuses to stop working with dangerous animals.
The Caspian tiger, which used to inhabit Turkey, Iran, and Central Asia, became extinct in the 1970s.
The South China Tiger is likely on the verge of extinction, with only 47 remaining in existence, which can only be found in zoos in China. It’s possible there could be some left in the wild, but their number is unknown.
The number of tigers in captivity in the US exceeds the number remaining in the wild.
It seems that tiger urine smells like buttered popcorn.
Tiger cubs stay with their mother by following her scent. Unfortunately, this is not always enough to ensure their survival, as many cubs get left behind on hunts and do not survive the harsh conditions of cold or hunger.
Taiwan has implemented a ban on crossbreeding tigers within its borders in an effort to preserve protected species. Those who violate this ban in Taiwan may face fines. This practice is currently allowed in various countries, including China, Iran, Argentina, the United States, the Czech Republic, the United Arab Emirates, India, and Russia.
The Bengal tiger is the most well-known tiger subspecies, possibly due to its depiction as the main antagonist, Shere Khan, in Disney’s “The Jungle Book” animation.
Tigers have been responsible for more human deaths than leopards and lions combined. In the 19th century alone, tigers were accountable for the deaths of over 100,000 people. Tigers generally try to avoid human contact as much as possible. Still, some circumstances can lead them to attack, such as when being provoked or experiencing a shortage of food that causes them to seek out humans for sustenance.
According to the IUCN, despite all the efforts to protect Siberian tigers, they’re still included among the endangered species. Though their numbers have now stabilized, there’s the possibility they could become extinct soon.
The Tasmanian tigers, once the largest carnivorous marsupials, became extinct in 1936 when the last one died at Tasmania’s Hobart Zoo.
Tigers have developed the ability to see clearly at night due to their nocturnal hunting habits. They have developed unique eye structures that allow them to see 6 times better in the dark than humans.
Tigers have long been revered as symbols of strength and determination. In certain Asian cultures, they are also seen as symbols of intelligence and power and respected as undisputed rulers of these territories.
Tigers can die from starvation in just 2 weeks due to their size and appetite.
Unlike other cat species, tigers are equipped with thick, spiky tongue bristles.
Tigers can inhabit a wide range of environments, including mangrove swamps, rainforests, savannas, and grasslands. As long as they have access to essential resources, they can survive.
Tigers can jump at least 30 feet forward in a single jump.
The subspecies of a tiger determines the density of its stripes.
Tigers have two types of hair: guard hair and underfur. The guard hairs are longer and more durable than the underfur and primarily serve a protective function. The primary purpose of a tiger’s coat is to keep the animal warm, and the underfur helps to accomplish this by trapping air and insulating the body.
South China male tigers typically weigh around 150 kg (330 lbs.) and measure approximately 2.5 m (8 ft) in length, while females are smaller, weighing about 110 kg (240 lbs.) and measuring around 2.3 m (7.5 ft) in length.
Tigers have four claws on each paw, and a specialized claw called a dewclaw. The dewclaw is located further back on the foot and does not make contact with the ground when the tiger is walking. It functions similarly to a human thumb and is used for grasping prey and climbing.
The curvature of tiger claws allows them to effectively grasp and hold onto large prey, as well as climb trees head-first with ease. However, the combination of their curved claws, size, and weight can make it difficult for tigers to climb down from trees. As a result, they must either crawl down the tree or jump down, making them the least skilled climbers among the big cat family.
Tigers have powerful jaw muscles attached to a bony ridge on the top of their skull called the sagittal crest. These muscles allow the tiger to rapidly clamp down on its prey with crushing force, helping it to subdue and kill its target.
White tigers are often found in zoos and can be very popular among visitors. However, many zookeepers do not allow these tigers to breed, and they may also be spayed or neutered to prevent it. In the wild, white tigers are sometimes illegally hunted for their valuable white fur. There are programs in place to protect white tigers from illegal hunting and ensure they have proper living conditions.
White tigers tend to be slightly larger than orange tigers, with this size difference being apparent from birth. It is thought that this size variation may be related to the same gene that makes their fur white.
Sumatran tigers, found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, are protected by strict laws.
The tiger population has decreased by about 7% due to habitat loss and hunting. These animals need the wild to survive, but human actions like poaching and pollution have made it harder for them to find food and a place to live.
In China, there’s a widespread belief that various body parts of tigers, such as their whiskers, bones, and tails, possess medicinal properties. These beliefs have contributed significantly to the illegal trade of tigers.
Tigers have baby teeth that come in when they are very young, usually within a week or two after birth. These teeth are deciduous and eventually replaced by permanent teeth.