Panthera tigris
Population size
Life Span
10-15 years
Top speed
km/h mph 
kg lbs 
cm inch 

The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest living cat species and a member of the genus Panthera. It is among the most recognizable and popular of the world's charismatic megafauna. It featured prominently in the ancient mythology and folklore of cultures throughout its historic range and continues to be depicted in modern films and literature, appearing on many flags, coats of arms, and as mascots for sporting teams. The tiger is the national animal of India, Bangladesh, Malaysia and South Korea.


The coat of tigers is a reddish-orange coat and there are vertical black stripes on the shoulders and flanks that vary in size, spacing, and length. Some subspecies have fur that is paler, some being almost completely white with either dark brown or black stripes along their flanks and shoulders. The muzzle, throat, chest, belly, and underside of the limbs are white or light. Above the eyes, of these beautiful animals, there is a white color that extends to the cheeks. On the back of their ears, there is a white spot. Their tail is reddish-orange in color and ringed by several dark bands.




Tigers live in South Asia and Southeast Asia, and also the Russian Far East and China. They inhabit pine and temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, where riparian forests provide food and water. On the Indian subcontinent, these animals live mainly in tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, moist evergreen forests, tropical dry forests, and the swamp forests of the Sundarbans. Tigers can also range from lowland peat swamp forests to rugged montane forests and tall grass jungles.

Tiger habitat map

Climate zones

Tiger habitat map

Habits and Lifestyle

Tigers are solitary animals, except during the mating season and when the females give birth. They like to be mostly alone, roaming their huge territories in search of food. They mark their territories with secretions and scratch marks on trees. Resident adults of either sex generally confine their movements to their home ranges, within which they satisfy their needs and those of their growing cubs. Individuals sharing the same area are aware of each other's movements and activities. Territory disputes are usually solved by intimidation rather than outright violence. Once dominance has been established, a male may tolerate a subordinate within his range, as long as they do not live in too close quarters. Tigers are most active during the night when their prey is most active. They can, however, be active at any time. They prefer to hunt within dense vegetation, using routes where they are able to move quietly. They knock prey onto the ground with the weight of their body and kill their catch by biting their neck. They are very good swimmers and often bathe in ponds, lakes, and rivers, thus keeping cool in the heat of the day; they can even kill prey while swimming. Tigers communicate through facial expressions and vocally. The most common facial expression includes the "defense threat", where an individual bares its teeth, and flattens its ears and its pupils enlarge. Like other members of their family, tigers roar, particularly in aggressive situations, during the mating season, or when making a kill. They will also chuff which is a soft, low-frequency snorting similar to purring in smaller cats. Other vocal communications include grunts, woofs, snarls, miaows, hisses, and growls.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

All tigers are carnivores, eating mainly sambar deer, water buffalo, wild pigs, and antelope. They sometimes hunt sloth bears, dogs, monkeys, hares, leopards, pythons, and crocodiles.

Mating Habits

103 days
1-7 cubs
18 mos-3 yrs

Tigers are polygynous animals. They have no association with mates aside from mating. Males within one area may compete for access to a female in estrus. November to April is the most common time for breeding. Gestation lasts for about 103 days, and females can give birth to 1-7 cubs. They are born with their eyes closed and will open their eyes 6 to 14 days later. During the first 11 to 14 days following the birth, the mother tiger spends the majority of her time nursing her young. Weaning takes place at around 90 to 100 days. Cubs usually remain with their mothers until they reach between 18 months and 3 years of age. Young females become reproductively mature when they are 3 or 4 years old, and males start to breed between 4 to 5 years of age.


Population threats

Major reasons for the tiger population decline include habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, and poaching. Tigers are also victims of human-wildlife conflict, particularly in range countries with a high human population density.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the tiger is 3,726-5,578 individuals or 2,608-3,905 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List, and its numbers today are decreasing.

Ecological niche

Tigers help control the populations of their large herbivorous prey, which all put pressure on various plant communities. Due to their role as top predators, they are considered keystone species.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Did you know that a tiger's coat pattern is still visible when it is shaved? This is not due to skin pigmentation but to the stubble and hair follicles embedded in the skin.
  • Tigers also have a prominent white spot on the back of their ears, surrounded by black. These spots are thought to play an important role in communication between individuals.
  • Tigers can cross rivers up to 7 km (4.3 mi) wide and can swim up to 29 km (18 mi) in a day.
  • When tense, tigers will moan; this sound is similar to a roar but more subdued and made when the mouth is partially or completely closed. Their moaning can be heard 400 m (1,300 ft) away!
  • After killing their prey, tigers sometimes drag it to conceal it in vegetation, grasping with their mouths at the site of the killing bite. This, too, can require great physical strength. In one case, after the tiger had killed an adult gaur, it was observed to drag the massive carcass over a distance of 12 m (39 ft). When 13 men simultaneously tried to drag the same carcass later, they were unable to move it. An adult tiger can go for up to 2 weeks without eating and then gorge on 34 kg (75 lb) of flesh at one time.

Coloring Pages


1. Tiger Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger
2. Tiger on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15955/0

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