Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family:    Felidae
Size:    Length: 70 to 109 inches (178 to 277 cm) 
Weight: 220 to 575 pounds (100 to 261 kg)
Diet: Hoofed animals, crocodiles, monkeys, fish and bears
Distribution: Asia
Young:  2 to 6 cubs, once every two to three years
Animal Predators:  None
IUCN Status: Endangered
Terms: Young: Cub

Up to 15 years in the wild and up to 18 years in captivity



∑    Unlike house cats, tigers purr only when breathing out.

∑    Tigers symbolize power and respect and, in addition to being a symbol of royalty, they were the symbol of the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

∑    A boy born in the Chinese calendarís Year of the Tiger is believed to have power to ward off evil.

∑    No two tigers have the same stripe-pattern.

∑    Three tiger subspecies have become extinct since 1936, leaving only five subspecies today.

∑    The three major tiger subspecies are the Siberian tiger, the Bengal tiger and the Sumatran tiger.

∑    White tigers are not albinos, just colour variants of tigers; they are rarely found in the wild.



These large cats have short, thick, orange fur with black stripes and some white markings. In the winter, their coat loses colour, developing more white fur in order to blend in with the snow. Their hind legs are longer than their front legs, making them powerful jumpers when pouncing on prey. Their claws are sharp and can be retracted. They have excellent vision and hearing. Males are larger than females. The coat of a Bengal tiger is flatter, richer in colour and has darker stripes than that of a Siberian tiger.



Bengal tigers are found primarily in India, with smaller populations found in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal. Male tigers have a territory of up to 400 square miles (1036 sq km) or more, depending on the accessibility of hoofed prey. Females have a smaller territory and several may live within the range of one male. Both females and males mark their territory with urine and droppings, as well as scratch marks on trees. Because they stalk rather than outrun their prey, tigers live in forests where they benefit from the cover of trees. 


Feeding Habits

Tigers hunt by stalking, and mainly eat animals such as deer and wild pigs, with crocodiles, fish, birds, leopards and bears rounding out their diet. Tigers hunt alone, stalking their prey until they are 30 to 80 feet (9 to 24 m) away, then pouncing and killing it with a bite to the neck or by holding its throat. Tigers are only successful in one or two attempts of every twenty. Tigers can eat more than 40 pounds (18 kg) of food in one sitting, and then not eat again for several days. 



Mating usually occurs in the spring, with the male spending one to three months with the female in her territory. The female has a gestation period of three to four months before giving birth to two to six cubs in a den within a cave, rocky crevice or dense vegetation. The young are born helpless and blind, opening their eyes by two weeks. At eight weeks, the cubs are weaned and have begun to eat meat that their mother brings to them. By the time they are 16 months, the cubs have been trained by their mother to hunt on their own, but will stay with her until they reach approximately two to three years of age, when they can establish their own territories. 



Male tigers are solitary animals and come out mostly at night to hunt. Females and juveniles may be found in small groups. All tigers are good swimmers and will lie in water to keep cool during hot weather. Tigers have been known to attack people and once they have developed a taste for human meat, will often return to a village for more. It is against the law to kill or shoot a tiger, so the villagers have to notify the proper authorities and wait for the government to come in and catch and tranquilize the tiger. However, there are several different techniques people use to fend off tigers. One way is to fit a human dummy with electrical wires that give off a shock when touched, hopefully training the tiger to leave humans alone. As well, people sometimes wear masks with a human face on the back of their heads. Tigers always attack from behind, so this is supposed to confuse them and/or scare them off, but it is not a foolproof method because tigers are intelligent and often see through this ruse. 



At the beginning of the 19th century, more than 100,000 tigers lived in the wilds of Asia and Europe. Hunting and encroachment on their territories by humans have caused these numbers to decline until only a few hundred remain in the wild.



Bengal Tiger Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US