A Ma­jes­tic Crea­ture

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE MINI PAGE -

Awe­some power

The tiger is the biggest cat in the world. Some male Siberian tigers can weigh as much as 570 pounds. They can stretch from 7 to 12 feet long.

It is the only big cat with stripes. The stripes help the tiger blend into forests and tall grasses. It hides in the veg­e­ta­tion, stalk­ing its prey un­til it gets close enough to pounce.

Tigers have pow­er­ful teeth and claws. An adult tiger can kill an an­i­mal four times big­ger than it­self.

Hunt­ing habits

Tigers need to eat an amount of meat equal to about one deer a week. If there is a lot of prey in an area, tigers have smaller home ranges. For ex­am­ple, in some re­serves in In­dia, a tiger’s home range can be as small as 20 square miles.

But in ar­eas where prey is scarce, such as in the Rus­sian Far East, tigers need much more space. One tiger may claim up to al­most 800 square miles of land for it­self. Male tigers need more ter­ri­tory than fe­males need.

Soli­tary an­i­mals

Each tiger has its own ter­ri­tory. It hunts alone. Tigers come to­gether to mate, and then the male leaves.

The mom cares for the cubs on her own. A mother tiger may have one to five cubs per lit­ter, but of­ten all but one or two die. Cubs stay with their mom for about two years.

Daugh­ter tigers of­ten set up their own ter­ri­tory near their mother’s. Tigers keep away from one an­other’s ter­ri­tory. But there are big­ger home ranges where tigers might meet up as they hunt.

Tigers mark their ter­ri­tory by spray­ing urine. They also have scent glands in their faces and feet. They rub their faces against trees to mark their area and let other tigers know where they are. The Mini Page thanks An­drea Heyd­lauff, Pan­thera man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, for help with this is­sue. Next week, The Mini Page is about cas­tles.

Beloved tiger

The tiger is a sym­bol, or sign, of beauty and power through­out the world. In fact, the year 2022 is the next Chi­nese Year of the Tiger.

That is the world’s goal year for dou­bling tiger num­bers. It is also the year tigers could van­ish from the wild if noth­ing is done to save them. Tigers don’t purr, but they make a kind of chuff­ing sound in their throats when they are happy. Look through your news­pa­per for sto­ries and pic­tures about tigers and other types of cats.

Tigers can live in a va­ri­ety of habi­tats, in­clud­ing grass­lands, dense trop­i­cal forests, or oak forests in ar­eas with tem­per­ate cli­mates (cli­mates where tem­per­a­tures don’t stay too hot or too cold). Tigers do need a good sup­ply of wa­ter and prey.

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