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Fun Facts About Tigers

tigers, fun animal facts
Sumatran Tiger.
Credit: © Iorboaz, dreamstime

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Genera: Panthera

Species: Panthera tigris

Subspecies: (still surviving) P. tigris altaica (Siberian or Amur tiger), P. tigris tigris (Indian or Bengal tiger), P. tigris amoyensis (South China tiger), P. tigris jacksoni (Malayan tiger), P. tigris corbetti (Indo-chinese tiger), P. tigris sumatrae (Sumatran tiger,); (extinct) P. tigris balica (Bali tiger), P. tigris sondaica (Javan tiger), P. tigris virgata (Caspian tiger)

See images of all nine subspecies and read more about them here:

Iconic Cats: All 9 Subspecies of Tigers

Basic tiger facts:

Tigers are the largest members of the cat family (Felidae). The other big cat members of this family are lions, panthers and jaguars.

These large, predatory felines are known for their iconic orange fur and black stripes. Fur colors do range across the subspecies though, with Sumatran tigers are typically sporting the darkest coats, and Bengal tigers sometimes sporting white coats thanks to a recessive gene. Stripes can vary in color and spacing across the subspecies as well.

The largest tiger subspecies are the Amur (Siberian) tigers — males can weigh up to 660 pounds (300 kilograms) and females up to 370 pounds (167 kg) — and the smallest are the Sumatran tigers, with males weighing up to 260 pounds (120 kg) and females weighing up to 200 pounds (90 kg).

Tigers are carnivores that tend to eat freshly killed ungulates (wild pigs, cattle and deer). One tiger can eat as much as 40 pounds (18 kg) of meat in one go, according to the Save the Tigers Fund, though that one meal will typically last a tiger for several days.

Baby tigers are called cubs and are typically born in litters of two or three, with one often dying at birth, according to the Save the Tigers Fund. Male tigers do not help raise their offspring.

Unlike lions, which live in groups called prides, tigers are solitary animals that establish their own territories that provide them with plenty of prey and water supplies.

Tiger attacks on humans are rare, but do occur, especially where humans and tigers come into close contact.

Where tigers live:

The tigers that remain in the wild can be found in isolated pockets in 13 Asian countries, from as far west as India, as far south as Indonesia, to as far north as Siberia. Tigers once ranged all the way to Mesopotamia and the Caucasus.

Tigers are adapted to a range of habitats, from mangrove swamps to dense jungles to the open Siberian taiga.

Conservation status: Endangered to Critically Endangered

Over the last century, tiger numbers have fallen by about 95 percent and tigers now survive in 40 percent less of the area they occupied just a decade ago, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Only about 3,200 tigers are thought to remain in the wild by some estimates.

Tigers face threats from habitat loss and fragmentation, lack of prey and poaching.

Tiger range countries, including India, Indonesia, Myanmar (formerly Burma), and China's Jilin province and Russia's Primorsky province all have conservation plans or agreements in place to try and stem the tide of tiger loss. Tigers are bred at zoos around the world to keep their populations genetically viable.

Odd facts:

Malayan tigers and Indo-chinese tigers were considered the same species until 2004, when genetic analyses showed that they were in fact separate species.

According to the WWF, the South China tiger is estimated to be functionally extinct. Currently 47 South China tigers live in 18 zoos, all in China, the WWF says.

The Sumatran tiger is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

2010 was the Chinese Year of the Tiger. The next Year of the Tiger will be 2022.

While the ancestors of tigers came from Africa, tigers are not found on the continent today.

Other resources:

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

Save the Tigers Fund

International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Species

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

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