Bengal Tiger Fact File
The Bengal tiger is instantly recognizable with its orange body covered with stripes which can vary in color from brown to jet black. Every tiger has a unique pattern of stripes. On their underside they have white fur which is also seen on the cheeks and around their eyes.
A white variant exists where white replaces the orange and the black stripes are faint.
Their coat color provides camouflage in the habitats where they live.
At the end of the body is a long tail which provides balance when catching food or climbing. This is between 60cm and 1.1m (2-3.5ft) long.
On either side of the mouth they have long whiskers which help them to feel items.
Bengal tigers are equipped with powerful forelegs and large feet with long claws which help them to grab and hold prey.
Tigers are the largest species of big cat. Bengal tigers are a medium sized tiger when compared to the other six subspecies. The smallest is the Sumatran tiger and the largest is the Siberian or Amur tiger.
Males are larger than females. Males measure up to 3m (10ft) long and weigh 225kg (500lbs) while females measure 2.7m (9ft) long and weigh 135kg (300lbs).
The Bengal tiger is a carnivore. Their diet includes large hoofed animals such as gaur and deer along with wild boar and smaller animals such as monkeys, birds, reptiles and fish. Carrion (dead animals) are also consumed. Reports exist of them taking down elephant and rhino calves.
Prey is captured by springing from undergrowth and knocking them over before delivering a bite to the throat.
Tigers are only successful during one in every 20 ambushes. They may only have a successful kill once or twice every week. Once they capture prey it may not be consumed in one session. They will bury this kill and come back to it over the next few days to finish this meal. Up to 40kg (88lbs) may be consumed in one meal.
Panthera tigris tigris
Wild 8-10 years
Captive 20 years
Asia is the native home of the Bengal tiger. Here it can be found in India, Nepal, Burma, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
India has the world’s largest population of tigers.
They make their home in subtropical, temperate and lowland forest, Himalayan foothills and mangroves. Bengal tigers are the only tiger known to live in mangrove habitats.
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Bengal tigers are able to breed year round. Males and females only come together to mate. Females will let out a change in their scent which attracts the male. The pair come together and may mate as many as 20 times before the male leaves. He will not be involved in raising the cubs.
A pair of tigers may travel up to 370km (230miles) away to mate.
The female will give birth to between two and six cubs. Around half of these will not survive to two years old. These cubs are born after a gestation of 104-106 days. At birth the cubs are helpless but the mother must leave them in a den while she hunts. Initially they drink milk but are weaned off of this by 6 months old.
Cubs will remain with their mother for two years as she teaches them to hunt. They first begin to learn this skill between 6 months and 1 year old.
Sexual maturity is reached between four and five years old. Males reach sexual maturity later than females.
Females produce a litter of cubs once every two or three years.
They make a range of vocalizations including a roar, chuff, grunt and hiss. Their roar can carry for up to 3.2km (2miles).
They mark a territory out using piles of feces or by scratching tree trunks and rocks. Another method of scent marking is by spraying urine which mixes with oil from a scent gland under the tail.
Bengal tigers are solitary. If another tiger enters their territory they will engage in a fight to defend this area.
They are able to leap between 8 and 10m (26-33ft).
A Bengal tiger is typically nocturnal though in areas with little disturbance they may emerge during the day.
Predators and Threats
Bengal tigers are considered the apex predator in their environment and healthy animals have no predators.
One natural threat they do face is wounds from porcupine quills which may lead to death.
Despite being the most common of the tiger subspecies they are still threatened. Hunting takes place both for making trophies and for traditional medicines. Tiger bones have been linked as a cure to many ailments despite their being no scientific evidence for this. Another threat presented by humans is habitat destruction.
They are also known as the Indian tiger or the royal Bengal tiger.
The Bengal tiger is the national animal of India and Bangladesh. They feature on money in Bangladesh.
Bengal tigers are the most common tiger subspecies. Over half of the remaining tigers are Bengal tigers.
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