Wonders of The World: Tigers, 10 Great Facts About Them
The next entry in our ongoing series of animal fact articles will cover tigers. The tiger is one of the most amazing animals on the planet and is the largest of all felines in the world. These creatures are much different than their other feline cousins so hopefully, this article is educational for you. I hope you enjoy these 10 facts about tigers.
#1 Wanna go for a swim?
Most cats absolutely hate the water but tigers are an exception. They not only like the water, they are well adapted to it. They love to play around in the water while bathing and are amazing swimmers. They are even able to hunt while in the water.
#2 All about their famous stripes.
Many cultures around the globe believe that the tiger is a noble creature. They believe that the stripes on their face look like the Chinese symbol meaning king. Much like their smaller domestic counterparts, if you were to shave their fur off their skin would have the same markings that adorn their fur. No two tigers stripes are alike much like our fingerprints. You can find their fur in all sorts of different colors from standard orange to white or black. There are even said to be blue tigers though no proof that they actually exist has been found.
#3 That tickles.
They use their tounges in many different ways. You might think that they lap up water when they drink but they don't. They actually flip the water into the air with their tongues and catch it. Did you know that tiger saliva is actually a disinfectant? It's true. When they are wounded they will lick their wound in order to clean it taking advantage of their tounges natural disinfectant qualities.
#4 What about their mating behavior?
Tigress's (female tigers) are only fertile for around 4-5 days each year. For this reason, they tend to mate fairly often. The gestation period for a tigress is around three months and they normally have between two and three cubs per pregnancy.
#5 They are excellent hunters.
Tigers are some of the sneakiest hunters on the planet. They regularly kill their prey by launching sneak attacks on their unsuspecting foes. It's said that if you are ever attacked by a tiger you should look it directly in the eyes. If the tiger knows that you know it's there, there is a chance that it will run away since it's ambush has been thwarted. Some people in India actually wear masks on the back of their heads while moving through forests in order to prevent tiger attacks. Tigers normally strangle their prey to death but not always. Sometimes they will rip their prey apart bone and all. Male tigers are some of the only cats in the world who allow their cubs and females to eat first after a kill.
#6 Misconceptions about them.
There are many misconceptions about tigers and this has led to them being poached for hundreds of years. In China, it is illegal to poach these creatures with the penalty for being caught, death. The reason they were poached is that people believe that certain parts of the tiger could be used to treat arthritis, digestive issues, and sexual impotence. Recently tigers have begun to poach them for use in aphrodisiacs again.
#7 They are some of the smartest animals in the world.
The only carnivore in the world with a larger brain than a tiger is the polar bear. Tiger brain size is on par with that of the Chimpanzee. Cats, in general, have much better memories than other animals including humans. Their short-term memory is somewhere around 30x stronger than ours thanks to their strong synapses. Tigers rarely forget things and have a much easier time remembering things than humans do.
#8 Crossbreeding and creating hybrids.
In captivity, humans have long mated tigers with other big cats from jaguars to leopards. Ligers and tiglons are the results when a lion and a tiger are mated. Ligers are actually the biggest cats there are. When you mix a jaguar and a tiger you get either a tiguar or a jagger. Only one tiguar has survived. All other jaguar tiger mixes were stillborn.
#9 How close are they to extinction?
There used to be 9 modern tiger subspecies but thanks to habitat destruction and poaching only 6 remains. Those 6 are the Bengal, the South China, the Siberian, the Malayan, the Sumatran and the Indochinese. The Bali, Caspian and Javan tigers have all gone extinct. The Bali tiger, in particular, was hunted to extinction because people believed they were evil. Even among the 6 remaining subspecies, they are not very numerous and are considered endangered.
#10 The eye of the tiger.
Tiger eyes have round pupils, unlike their other feline friends who have slitted pupils. This is why tigers are not nocturnal like most other types of cats. They tend to do most of their hunting in the morning or at dusk but rarely ever at night.
Tiger numbers continue to decline to this day thanks to illegal poaching and habitat destruction. Hopefully, people will see the error of their ways before we lose these majestic creatures are gone for good.