Tiger facts for kids

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Tiger
Bengal tiger (P. tigris tigris)
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Panthera
Species: P. tigris
Binomial name
Panthera tigris
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The tiger (Panthera tigris) is a carnivorous mammal. It is the largest living member of the cat family, the Felidae. It lives in Asia, mainly India, Bhutan, China and Siberia.

Appearance

Singapore Zoo Tigers
White Tigers in the Singapore Zoological Gardens

Bengal tigers live in the watery jungle called the Sundarbans that is in Bangladesh and West Bengal of India. They are also found in other south-east Asian countries. They have orange fur with black stripes, and a white belly. The black stripes usually extend to the white underside. The stripes are used to keep them camouflaged while hunting. No two tigers have the same pattern of stripes.

Sometimes there are tigers with different colors. There are white tigers that have white fur with black stripes, or that even have pure white fur. Tigers are striped through and through. If you were to shave a tiger you would see the stripes on the skin. No two tigers have exactly the same pattern of stripes. They have blue or green eyes. Most Bengal tigers have orange fur. Tigers have very strong teeth and jaws. Their paws are soft and heavily padded, sheathing large, very sharp claws. They also have short, thick, and soft fur and thick long whiskers.

Big Tiger Cub
Tiger Cub 5 months old

White tigers are those who are born with a certain genetic defect causing loss of pigment in their skin, eyes and fur. These tigers can be white with black, grey, very dark blue, or no stripes; they are not albino.

Tigers vary in size depending on their subspecies. The Siberian tiger is the world's largest naturally occurring cat. Males can grow to at least 6 feet (1.8 metres) long (body length) and weigh about 500 lb (230 kg). Females are a bit smaller. Record weight for males is claimed as 700 lbs (318 kg), but this cannot be confirmed.

Prey

Hunting tiger
Hunting tiger

Tigers are thought to be mainly nocturnal predators and eat lots of different types of prey, mostly other large mammals. Some examples are deer, monkeys, wild pigs, tapirs and other animals found in Asia. All tigers are carnivores (meat eaters). Some tigers may eat up to 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of meat a day. An adult tiger can go for up to two weeks without eating, then gorge on 34 kg (75 lb) of flesh at one time.

Tigers kill their prey by clamping down on the prey's throat and suffocating it. Like the majority of cats, they are solitary hunters, meaning they hunt alone. When a tiger has spotted its prey, it may seek out a good location where it can hide, staying close to the ground, and wait for the perfect moment to pounce and ambush its prey. But when prey becomes scarce tigers also hunt peacocks and rabbits. Resourceful as they are, they also catch and eat fish, as tigers are good swimmers.

People who traditionally live in areas where tigers hunt have learned to avoid tiger attacks by wearing a face-mask on the backs of their heads. Tigers prefer to approach other animals from behind and think twice about pouncing when they can see a face. Fortunately, they rarely attack humans unless they are too ill to hunt their normal prey.

Subspecies

The tiger has 6 living subspecies, and 3 recently extinct (†) subspecies.

Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) female 2
Bengal tiger

Tigers and humans

Tigers are becoming very rare, because people hunt them for their skin and destroy the habitats they live in. The Bengal tiger has the largest population with 3,500 left in the wild. The South-Chinese tiger has the smallest population with only 20 or 30 left in the wild and about 60 in captivity.

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Tiger Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.