Tigers - Everything you need to know! The Big Cat Sanctuary

A guide to Tigers

What is a tiger?

Tigers are the largest member of the big cat family and are known for their distinct appearance. They are carnivorous mammals and belong to the Panthera genus. In fact, tigers are one of the largest terrestrial mammals that have a meat-based diet.

Other members of the big cat family include lions, jaguars, snow leopards and cheetahs.


What family do tigers belong to?

Tigers belong to the Felidae family.


What does a tiger look like?

As one of the most recognisable animal species, tigers have a reddish-orange coat with black stripes. Fun fact: each tiger has a unique stripe pattern! They have sharp teeth and very strong jaws alongside an agile body which makes them an effective predator.


Why are tigers orange?

As tigers rely heavily on hunting their prey, and always have, this means that it’s important that they blend in. To us humans we can clearly see that tigers are orange, but to certain animals (including deer) they can’t distinguish between orange and green, and so the tiger is able to effectively blend into its environment. This helps them stalk, sneak up on and attack their prey.


Why do tigers have stripes?

A tiger’s stripes help them to blend into their surroundings. This is known as ‘disruptive coloration’ by biologists as the stripes allow the tiger to camouflage themselves in long grass or within the treeline.


What noise does a tiger make?

Tigers are known to roar and growl, however they also produce a noise known as a ‘chuff’.


How big are tigers?

The size of the tiger largely depends on which sub-species it is. Sumatran tigers, for example, are the smallest with males growing to 120kg in weight and eight feet in length from head to tail. Where as the Amur tiger (also known as the Siberian tiger) can weight up to 300kg and measure up to 10 feet in length! 

Females are also often smaller than males. And the habitat is a factor in how large a tiger will grow to, with availability of prey and a healthy habitat supporting growth.


How fast can a tiger run?

A tiger can reach speeds of up to 35-40mph!


What do tigers eat?

A tiger’s diet depends largely on where in the world they are. Generally, most species of tiger will prefer larger mammals, often those with hooves such as pigs, deer, rhinos and (even) elephants. The diet will also vary between subspecies of tiger, for example the diet of the Malayan tiger includes wild boar, whereas the Bengal tiger that can be found in India or Nepal will feed on bison, deer, water buffalo or wild pig.


How strong are tigers?

In short, tigers are very strong! In fact, a tiger’s bite is measured at around 1,000 PSI – six times stronger than a human’s (162 PSI).


What is a group of tigers called?

A group of tigers is called an ambush or a streak.


What colour eyes do tigers have?

Tigers have yellow or ‘golden’ coloured eyes.


What countries do tigers live in?

Tigers once lived throughout much of Asia, however they now occupy only 7% of this area it is estimated.They can now be found in regions including Eastern Russia, South and Southeast Asia and China.

Wild tigers can be found in:


What are baby tigers called?

A baby tiger is called a cub.


How many cubs do tigers have?

On average, tigers will give birth to 2 – 4 cubs at a time and can do this every 2 years.


What is a tiger’s habitat?

This depends on the subspecies of tiger and there they live. Tigers as a whole can be found living in a wide variety of habitats including grasslands, swamps, rain forests and savannas.


Why do tigers have spots on their ears?

Tigers are known for their very distinct white spots on the back of their ears. You will likely have heard that it’s believed these are designed to function as ‘false eyes’ that will deter any potential predators from attacking from behind. However, it’s also thought that they have a part to play in aggressive communication as tigers may turn their eyes to face forward when threatened.


How many tigers are left in the wild?

It’s estimated that there are around 3,900 tigers left in the wild. This number has reduced by nearly 95% over the last 150 years.


How long do tigers live in the wild?

Tigers in the wild will usually live between 10 – 15 years, However this depends on the habitat they live in and the availability of prey.


Do tigers have any predators?

As apex predators, tigers don’t have any natural predators. However, they are at risk from human hunting and can be vulnerable to larger predators as cubs.


How long are tigers pregnant for?

The gestation period for a tiger can range between 93 – 114 days.


How do tigers learn to hunt?

As cubs tigers will begin to learn the tips and tricks of hunting from their mother. This will start from the age of between 8 – 10 months. By following their mother and learning from her behaviour the cubs will pick up the tricks of the hunt for use when living life as a solo adult tiger.

Did you know that tigers are such skilled hunters that they can even hunt in the water! This is because they are competent swimmers. They will tend to hunt just once a week but they can consume up to 75 lbs of food in one day.


What dangers do tigers face?

The main dangers facing tigers right now include poaching, hunting, loss of habitat and retaliatory killings. Unfortunately, as their habitat shrinks the tigers must compete to survive in a much smaller space than they historically had. This can, at times, lead to tigers competing with humans which is posing a threat to future tiger populations.


Why are tigers endangered?

Tigers have lost almost 96% of their number since the 1900 when populations were around 100,000. Now under 4,000 this puts the tiger at severe risk. In fact, the six subspecies of tiger are all on the endangered list:


One of the main causes of this endangerment is illegal poaching as poachers will hunt tigers for their fur and more to sell. Habitat loss and destruction of their natural environment also play a key role in the destruction of population numbers. The size of the available habitat has shrunk by 40% in the last decade alone.


How can we help to save tigers?

There are a number of great organisations that strive to help grow the tiger population across all subspecies. You can also play your part and help these amazing animals by supporting their conservation with these organizations and donating what you can comfortably afford to.