A Few Things You Probably Didn't Know About Tigers
April 15, 2019
Tigers are one of the most iconic animals in the world, but beyond their unique appearance and some basic facts, how much do you really know about them?
1. Tigers are the largest wild cats in the world and the third-largest carnivore on landTigers can weigh up to 720 pounds (363 kg) and stretch six feet (two meters) long. This makes them the largest cat and the third-biggest carnivore; only polar bears and brown bears are larger.
2. Tigers like water and are powerful swimmersUnlike other cat species, tigers do not shy away from water and are actually very strong swimmers. In addition to cooling off in lakes and streams, tigers are known to swim long distances to cross rivers and hunt.
3. A tiger can consume up to 88 pounds of meat in a single sitting (err…crouching?)And you thought you were a meat lover. A tiger’s diet consists mainly of large prey weighing about 45 pounds (20 kilograms) or more. Typical tiger meals include deer species, wild boar, buffalo, and antelope, along with the occasional elephant or rhinoceros calf, leopard, bear species, and Asiatic wild dog. Tigers are clearly not picky eaters.
4. Tigers have prominent white spots on the back of their ears, and no one is sure whyMany experts believe that the spots (or “flashes”) mimic eyes, which could ward off animals attempting to attack them from behind. It is also thought the spots may help tiger cubs locate their mothers in tall grass.
5. Tigers wait until nightfall to huntThanks to a retinal adaptation, tigers have extraordinary night vision. They also have more rods (responsible for shapes) than cones (which help with color), which means they have a heightened ability to detect the movement of prey in the darkness.
6. Tigers are the national animal of four countriesThroughout history, tigers have represented strength and courage, so it’s not surprising that India, Malaysia, South Korea, and Bangladesh all chose the tiger to symbolize their countries.
7. White tigers are not albino, nor are they a separate speciesWhite tigers are “leucistic,” meaning they have a partial loss of pigmentation, resulting in pigmented stripes and blue eyes. The condition is caused by a recessive gene from each parent that controls pigmentation. Only one in 10,000 tigers carries this gene.
8. A tiger’s roar can be heard up to two miles awayTiger vocalizations include roaring, growling, chuffing, hissing, and moaning.
9. Every tiger has a unique set of stripesA tiger’s stripes break up the outline of its body, which makes them difficult to see. These stripes are like a human’s fingerprints, and no two tigers have the same stripe pattern. Tiger stripe patterns also vary by subspecies; the stripes on Sumatran tigers are closer together than those on all other subspecies.
10. A tiger’s hind legs are longer than its front legsThis allows them to leap forward an astounding 20 to 30 feet in one jump.
11. Tigers have a mark on their forehead which resembles the Chinese character for “king”As a result, in Chinese and Korean cartoons, tigers are often depicted with this symbol on their forehead.
Tigers are as fascinating as they are beautiful. But sadly, all tiger species are considered endangered or critically endangered. It’s important that we protect these majestic creatures so that tigers—and their ecosystems—continue to thrive.
Written by Whitney Currier for Knockaround.