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12 Incredible Facts About Tigers

Tiger Facts

1. Tigers have striped skin along with striped fur. These stripes are a result of skin pigmentation.

Tiger
Tiger skin-pattern

Just like human fingerprints, no two tigers have the same pattern of stripes. (source)

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2. A tiger’s tongue is covered with sharp, small, thorn-like, hooked projections.

The hook-shaped projections, called “papillae,” curve toward the tiger’s throat.

This makes the tongue so coarse, that with just a few licks, a tiger can strip off flesh down to the bone. (source)

3. Tigers have white spots on the backs of their ears that look like eyes when viewed from a distance.

Tigers white spots
White spots on ears

Though we are not sure why they have those, it is believed that these eye-like markings are a form of intimidation against other animals trying to sneak upon them. (source)

4. A tiger’s roar can momentarily paralyze or immobilize its prey.

Such is the effect of the roar, that even experienced human trainers feel paralyzed upon hearing it.

When tigers roar, they produce low-pitched infrasound of frequencies 18 hertz and below. Although untested, scientists believe that this infrasound is what causes the paralyzing effect. (1,2)

5. Even though tigers and lions look to be the same size, tigers weigh up to 300 lb more than lions due to their muscle density.

When pitted against a lion, tigers usually have an upper hand as they can stand up on their hindquarters while leaping for the throat straight away.

In 2011, a tiger at Ankara Zoo in Turkey got out through a gap in its fence, went to a lion’s enclosure, and severed the lion’s jugular vein with a single swipe of its paw. (1,2,3)

6. Tigers are one of the most vengeful animals on the planet. There are multiple instances that showed that they can and will take revenge on those who have wronged them.

Tiger attack
Vengence of tigers

The most famous tiger revenge story is that of a Russian poacher, Vladimir Markov, who, in the winter of 1997, wounded a tiger and stole part of its kill. The vengeful tiger found out the poacher’s cabin, destroyed his belongings, waited at least half a day for him to return, then killed and ate him. (source)

7. Siberian tigers are known to hunt and eat bears. Hair of bears have been found in several tiger scat samples.

Statistics show that about 2.1% of the Siberian tiger’s annual diet constitutes of Ussuri brown bears and Asian black bears.

Even though bears are not their primary food, tigers sometimes imitate the call of Asian black bear to attract and kill them. (1,2)

8. Tigers are solitary creatures. They live alone and interact briefly only during the mating season.

After mating, the male tiger wanders away. The female gives birth and raises the cubs on her own.

Tigers are also extremely territorial and mark their area with urine and feces to let other tigers know that this space is occupied. (1,2)

9. There exists an extremely rare type of tiger called the “golden tiger.” Also known as the “golden tabby tiger” or “strawberry tiger,” this color variation is caused by a recessive gene.

Golden tiger
Golden tabby tiger

The gene that causes this color pattern is so rare that currently, no known golden tigers exist in the wild. The rare gene that causes this must be present in both parents. Because of that, this condition is mainly the result of inbreeding. The 30 or fewer golden tigers that are alive today have been born and raised in captivity. (1,2)

10. There exists “tigons”, a cross between a female lion and a male tiger. Tigons have faint tiger striping underneath the golden color of a lion.

In captivity, tigons have produced two, second-generation hybrids called a “titigon” and “litigon.” Titigons resulted from the cross between female tigons and male tiger, and litigons were bred by crossing female tigons and male lion. (1,2)

11. Between 1800 and 2009, tigers have killed an estimated 373,000 humans.

In the early 20th century, a single tiger killed 436 people in Nepal and India. Known as the “Champawat Tiger,” this Bengal tiger is even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as causing the highest number of fatalities by a single tiger. (1,2)

12. The markings on a tiger’s forehead closely resemble the Chinese character for king, ” 王 “, giving them a Chinese cultural status as a regal animal.

Tiger’s forehead
Tiger’s forehead, Chinese symbol

Since ancient times, Chinese culture has associated tigers with the powerful male principles of courage, bravery, dignity, and austerity.

The tiger is an integral part of Chinese culture even today. So, during the Year of the Tiger, children have the character wang (王) painted on their foreheads to promote vigor and health. (source)

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