Age: The life span of tigers in the wild is thought to be about 10 to 15 years. Tigers in zoos typically live up to 20 years of age.
Fur: Most tigers have an orange coat with dark brown or black stripes accented with white. Tigers that live in cold climates (Amur tigers) have thicker fur than tigers that live in warm climates.
Claws: A tiger's forefeet have five toes and the hind feet have four toes. All toes have claws. The claws are 3 to 4 inches in length and are retractable.
Teeth: Adult tigers have 30 large teeth! The length of the canine teeth can be between 2.5 to 3 inches (74.5 to 90 mm.).
Weight: Amur tigers are the heaviest subspecies at 500 or more pounds (225 kg), with males heavier than females. The lightest subspecies is the Sumatran; males weigh about 250 pounds (110 kg) and females around 200 pounds (90 kg).
Measurements: Depending on the subspecies, the head-body length of a tiger is about 41/2 to 9 feet (1.4-2.8 m). The length of the tail is 3 to 4 feet (90-120 cm). The foot pads vary in size with age, resulting in inaccurate estimates when used in censusing wild populations.
Tail: A tiger's tail is 3 to 4 feet long, about half as long as its body. Tigers use their tails for balance when they run through fast turns. They also use their tails to communicate with other tigers.
Stripes: No one knows exactly why tigers are striped, but scientists think that the stripes act as camouflage, and help tigers hide from their prey. The Sumatran tiger has the most stripes of all the tiger subspecies, and the Amur tiger has the fewest stripes. Tiger stripes are like human fingerprints; no two tigers have the same pattern of stripes.
Birth: Following mating, the gestation period for tigers is approximately 104 days. The average litter size of tigers is 2 or 3 cubs (the largest is 6). Tiger cubs are born blind and weigh only about 2 to 3 pounds (1 kg), depending on the subspecies. They live on their mother's milk for 6-8 weeks before the female begins taking them to kills to feed.
Maturation: Young tigers leave their mother's range at anywhere from a year and a half to three years of age, depending on whether the mother has another litter. Females tend to stay closer to the mother's range than males. Tigers begin to hunt around 18 months of age. Female tigers reach maturity when they are about 3 years old, males a year or so later.
Living Alone: Unlike lions which form social groups called “prides”, wild adult tigers are solitary (except for mother tigers with cubs). In zoos, adult tigers are often exhibited alone, but sometimes brothers remain together as adults. Young tigers leave their mother's range at anywhere from a year and a half to three years of age, depending on whether the mother has another litter. Females tend to stay closer to the mother's range than males.
Territory: The size of a wild tiger's territory depends on the amount of food available, and usually ranges from about 10 to 30 square miles (26-78 sq. km). Amur tigers sometimes have very large territories (as large as 120 square miles). Although tigers usually live alone, tiger territories can overlap. A male tiger's territory usually overlaps those of several female tigers.
Scent Marking: Tigers mark their territories by spraying bushes and trees with a special mixture of urine and scent gland secretions. They also leave scratch marks on trees.
Sounds: Tigers may produce loud roars when they attack or when they are threatened. The loud but more subdued moans they make may serve as long-distance communication between tigers. Chuffing, or prustening, is more of a friendly greeting and can only be heard at close range.
Hunting/feeding: Wild tigers kill about 50 ungulates (deer, for example) per year, on average. After eating a lot, they often do not feed again for several days. Over much of the tiger's broad geographic range, wild pig, wild cattle and several species of deer are its major prey.
Habitat: Wild tigers live in Asia, typically in thick forests or areas with tall grasses to hide in and plenty of prey to eat. Most tigers live where it is warm but Amur tigers live in the Russian Far East where it gets very cold.