The tiger is the largest member of the cat family and is recognized for its awesome power and strength, as well as for its beauty and its famous stripes. Generally, the color of the tiger’s fur varies between shades of orange and brown. The tiger has a white belly and a long tail. Narrow, vertical, black or brown stripes run down its head, body, tail, and limbs. Although it may seem that all tigers have the same striped pattern, that is not the case. Each individual tiger has its own distinct pattern of stripes.
There are currently six species of tigers left in the world. However, one of them, the south Chinese tiger, is actually extinct in the wild; the tigers from this group can only be found living in captivity.
The other five species of tigers are the Indochinese tiger, the Malayan tiger, the Sumatran tiger, the Siberian tiger, and the Bengal tiger (the white tiger is a type of Bengal tiger). Each species lives in a different type of habitat and can be found living in either Asia, India, or Russia. One important factor that all tiger habitats have in common is that they are usually close to water. Besides for using water for drinking purposes, the tiger, unlike most cats, enjoys swimming and relaxing in water during the day.
The tiger is a territorial creature, meaning that it needs a designated amount of property just for itself. Depending on the tiger species, the size of the area it needs can range from ten to forty square miles.
Each tiger species is very dangerous and feared by humans and beasts. Depending on the species, a tiger can be as long as eleven feet and weigh up to seven hundred pounds. Add in the facts that the tiger is able to run as fast as 40 mph, is an excellent swimmer, and is armed with sharp claws and three-inch-long canine teeth – andyou can understand why the tiger is such a formidable beast.
Although not a social animal, the tiger communicates with other tigers by using a variety of sounds. For example, a loud roar can mean that the tiger is claiming its meal, or it can be an indication that it is ready to challenge a rival tiger. A chuffle (a low, snuffling sound), on the other hand, is more of a peaceful and friendly vocalization. This sound is often heard between the mother tiger and her cubs.
Today the tiger is a near-endangered species. In the early 1900s, there were around 100,000 tigers living in the wild. Today, it is estimated that there are less than 5,000 tigers (all species combined) remaining throughout the world.