Tigers (and all other carnivores) have descended from miacids
that lived during the ice-age. Approximately 37 cat species
exist today, including Panthera tigris, the tiger. All throughout
the world the tiger holds fascination for many people. Certain
cultures retain the tiger as a symbol of strength, which has
a mysterious aura surrounding it. But the fact remains that
the tiger is in danger of extinction. Welcome, you are about
to enter the world of the tiger...
The oldest known felids including tigers are believed to have
over 1 million years ago in Asia. From there the tiger spread
north to the Amur region of eastern Russia, south to the islands
of Indonesia, and southwest to Indochina and the Indian subcontinent,
eastern Turkey, and the Caspian Sea. The tiger has distinct
traits & at times is grouped as a separate sub genus.
It is widely distributed over the forests of India ranging
from the sub-alpine Himalayas to down south and across east-west,
but excluding Kashmir valley and the desert and arid portions
of Rajasthan and Kutch.
The tiger (panthera tigris) is one of the biggest and most
fearsome predators in the world. The body bears black stripes
against a brownish yellow to rufous background with a white
underside. The adult animal is solitary and strongly territorial
when inhabiting better habitats having fair prey density.
The territory of the male in such cases encompasses smaller
territories of two or more females. The distinctive colour
scheme of the tiger allows it to camouflage unseen in the
life span of tigers in the wild on an average is around 8
to 15 years. Tigers in zoos live longer (between 16 and 20
Tigers have round pupils and yellow irises (except for the
blue eyes of white tigers). Due to a retinal adaptation that
reflects light back to the retina, the night vision of tigers
is six times better than that of humans. It can adjust to
sudden darkness at once unlike the human eye. The presence
of rods & cones in the eye indicates the possibility of
Tiger hairs are used as tactile receptors helping it to know
more about its immediate surroundings The fur hair length
varies geographically. In the southern subspecies the hairs
are short (approximately 7 to 20 mm on the back and 15 to
35 mm on the stomach). The density of fur is dependent on
seasonal and geographical factors.
A tiger's forefeet have five toes and the hind feet have four
toes. All toes have claws. The claws are sickle shaped and
are important for offence and defence. The claws are retracted
during walking and extended during attack.
The diploid Chromosomes are 38 in number.
Tigers are meat eaters and their teeth design is adapted for
this purpose. There are 30 teeth & the tiger bites with
the side of its mouth. Its long, powerful canines are used
to kill & grab the prey. The length of the canine teeth
can be between 2.5 to 3 inches (74.5 to 90 mm.).
Maintenance of equilibrium:
It is extremely well-developed in tigers. The Tail is 3 to
4 feet long, about half as long as its body. Tigers use their
tails for balance when they run through fast turns. They also
use their tails to communicate with other tigers.
Paw prints: A tiger's paw prints are called pug marks, which
are individualistic like human finger prints. No two tigers
have the same pug marks.
Tigers are the largest of all big cats- the body length of
the male ranges from 275-290 cm, and for the females it is
around 260 cm. The size and colouration varies according to
Reproductive behaviour & post-natal care:
Mating follows a definite courtship period, the mother carries
total responsibility of bringing up the young. Cubs stay with
their mother for as long as 18-30 months. Males are generally
intolerant of cubs, though exceptions are there.
act as camouflage, and help tigers hide from their prey. The
Sumatran tiger has the most stripes of all the tiger subspecies,
and the Siberian tiger has the fewest stripes.