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Critter Guide
Mammals: Tiger


Tigers are famous for their stripes, power, and beauty. The largest in the cat species, they can grow up to 12 feet long and weigh up to 650 pounds. Today, there are five tiger subspecies left of the original eight. The Siberian, Bengal, and Sumatran tigers are the most common, but there are also the Indo Chinese and South China tigers. Current studies estimate that roughly 6,000 tigers remain in the wild. Recent tests show that all tigers are nearly identical both physically and genetically. Tigers are listed as endangered on the U.S. Endangered Species List.

Where do they live?:

Tigers are found in small, isolated patches across Asia -- from India to the Russian Far East. Tigers need lots of forest cover, water, and food such as wild pigs and deer. They can survive in many habitats from rainforests to oak forests, mangrove swamps to tall grass jungles. The Siberian tiger's adaptation to a life in the cold means thicker fur and a layer of fat around its belly, insulating it against extremely low temperatures.

What do they eat?:

Tigers need to eat 12 to 15 pounds of meat a day. While they are fast runners, they can't run fast for very long and only three out of 10 hunts are successful. Their favorite prey is wild pig, elk, and deer. They will also eat fish and rodents when other foods are scarce.

Social Environment:

Tigers are solitary, living and hunting alone. Only mothers and cubs live together. However, tigers are very aware of each other, communicating through scent and visual signposts (such as scratch marks). Although solitary, they are well aware of nearby tigers and what they're up to.

Critter Fact:

All white tigers are Bengal tigers and they get their coloring from a double dose of white genes from their parents.

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Did You Know?

The tigers' loud roar can be heard from miles away. They also growl, hiss, purr, and chuff (an affectionate greeting). But in 2000, researchers discovered that tigers could also communicate in frequencies too low for humans to hear. These infrasounds can travel for much longer distances and go through objects like buildings, forests, and mountains.

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