Panthera tigris

About the Tiger


Geographic Range:


Class: Mammalia  
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae  
Genus: Panthera  
Species: tigris

Tigers are fierce and beautiful “big cats,” inspiring both awe and fear in those who encounter them. Their orange-brownish fur and head-to-tail stripes make for perfect camouflage in the dense forests where they stalk prey. Large paws allow them to walk silently in heavy brush and powerful back legs enable them to pounce and jump great distances, making the tiger a stealthy predator that's almost impossible to elude.

Tiger Facts

There are five subspecies of tiger left in the world. Most tigers have similar colors and patterns but vary in size. Tigers have orange-brownish fur with white under parts on the legs, belly and neck. They have black stripes stemming from the head and legs to the back end of the body, meeting at the tail to form a ring-tail pattern.

Length: 7 to 11 feet from head to tail, depending on subspecies
Height: Up to 3.5 feet at the shoulders
Weight: 250 to 650 pounds depending on the subspecies

Tigers are carnivores and feed on a wide variety of large and small prey including pigs, deer and antelope.

Breeding can occur throughout the year but occurs more frequently from November to April.

Two to three cubs are born after a 100-day gestation period. Females become mature at ages 3-4. Males become mature at ages 4-5.

Tigers are solitary cats that maintain territories whose size depends on prey availability. Females rarely overlap other female territories, but males' territories generally overlap one to three adjacent female territories. Disputes over territory are often resolved through intimidating displays rather than outright aggression. Tigers are one of the few cats that enjoy bathing in ponds, lakes and rivers.

Role in their Habitat:
Tigers are primarily threatened by habitat loss and hunting of themselves and their prey. The rare habitat ranges that are large enough to host multiple territories are under pressure by neighboring human populations. Loss of habitat also decreases the amount of prey availability. Poaching is also taking its toll on otherwise healthy tiger populations as their skins, bones and meat are sold as decorations or medicinal products. Others are hunted because the local human populations are afraid of them.

Tigers once roamed forests throughout Asia from the tropics to Siberia. Today they are found in South and Southeast Asia, Far Eastern Russia, and China. Subspecies’ ranges are fragmented.

Median Life Expectancy:
15 years

Supporting Species Survival

Zoo New England participates in the tiger Species Survival Plan. By sharing research and knowledge, participating institutions work together to establish guidelines that best ensure the health of captive populations, and with success, the survival of otherwise extinct species.