Tiger Natural History
Tigers are the largest of all naturally occurring cat species. On average an adult male Bengal Tiger will reach weights of up to 500 pounds and have a length (from head to tip of tail) of 122 inches (305 cm), while standing 40 inches at the shoulder. Many Tigers in captivity have been hybridised slightly between sub species, and the majority will reach similar sizes to the Bengal.
Habitat and Distribution
Tigers live in small pockets within their range, and can be found in some parts of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Nepal, Vietnam and Thailand. Through its range it can be found mainly in woodland habitat, even being found in areas around human habitation.
In the wild these Tigers generally live for 10 to 15 years but in zoos they can be expected to live for up to 20 years or more.
This is a carnivore taking a large variety of prey, with the majority of its diet being made up of medium sized ungulates such as Chital, Sambar and Gaur, however when given the opportunity they may also take larger prey such as Water Buffalo. During times when such larger prey is not plentiful they are known to also hunt animals such as Wild Boar or in some areas domestic livestock.
Groups and Breeding
Tigers are generally fairly solitary animals, with the young staying with their mother until they are 2 to 3 years old, during which time the mother plays a vital role in not only feeding but also protecting their vulnerable offspring (especially from other predators such as Leopards and other Tigers – especially males). As a result Tigers all live in set territories (while males will always have their own, several females may share a territory), and these are marked by urine sprayed on markers such as trees and bushes.
Each female can give birth to between 1 and 4 cubs at a time, after a gestation period of around 105 days, which will all suckle from their mother until they are anywhere between 3 and 6 months old. A female will only have 1 litter of cubs at any one time, so she may only breed once every 3 years once she reaches maturity at around 3 years old.
Out of the Tiger subspecies the Bengal Tiger is the most numerous in the wild, and is classified as being endangered by the IUCN red list due to a decrease in numbers and habitat size However it is incredibly sad that the Tiger subspecies with the most wild numbers only has around 1,850 individuals left in the wild. When adding up all subspecies, there were estimated to be between 3,000 and 5,000 left in the wild (this estimate was made in 2006, at which point numbers were still decreasing).
In 1967 the largest Tiger ever recorded was hunted in Northern India by David Hasinger, and to everyone’s surprise the largest recorded Tiger was not a Siberian Tiger but am 857 pound Bengal Tiger.
The Tigers During Your Day Out in Kent
We have two tigers at Wingham Wildlife Park, brothers Troy and Blade, who came to us as cubs in 2011 after their mother had rejected them. There is a tiger feed every day at 14.30 which is a highlight when visiting the park, not only is incredible to see these beautiful boys up close but it’s a great opportunity to learn more about them and their cousins in the wild.
At the park their diet includes chicken (they particularly enjoy chicken wings as a snack), rabbit and horse meat on the bone. In the winter they are given larger portions to help them bulk up and keep warm.