11 Fierce Facts About Tigers

LukeWaitPhotography/iStock via Getty Images
LukeWaitPhotography/iStock via Getty Images

In honor of International Tiger Day (which is celebrated on July 29th), here are a few things you might not know about the exotic—and endangered—animal.

1. No tiger stripe is the same.

The big cats use their coats as camouflage. Every tiger has a unique set of stripes that can be used to identify it, similar to human fingerprints. Some tigers have orange fur with black stripes; others are black with tan stripes, white with tan stripes, or all white (albino).

2. Tigers are an endangered species.


Getty Images

Humans have long hunted tigers for their fur and and other parts (more on that below). They are also rapidly losing their habitats, since people have co-opted most of their land for farming and logging. (The island of Sumatra, home of the Sumatran tiger, for example, has lost 50 percent of its forest cover.) In just over a century, 97 percent of the tiger population has perished, three subspecies have gone extinct, and the whole species is expected to be extinct in just a decade.

3. There are more tigers in captivity than in the wild.

There are thought to be 3000 tigers in the wild and between 5000 and 10,000 tigers in U.S. cages. An estimated 90 percent of them are kept in roadside zoos, backyard breeder facilities, circus wagons, and as pets in homes.

4. Tigers are the largest members of the cat family ...


iStock

... Followed by the lion in second place, and the jaguar in third. The Siberian tiger, the largest subspecies, can weigh up to 675 pounds and is capable of killing animals twice its size.

5. Tigers are territorial.

Tigers live alone and scent-mark their territories—which can be up to 10,000 square kilometers in size. A male tiger guards his territory from other males, but must offer access to females for potential mating. A male's territory will always be larger than a female's, and may overlap with the territories of one to seven females.

6. There were once nine sub-species of tigers.


iStock

At one time, these subspecies included the Bengal, the Siberian, the Indochinese, the South Chinese, the Sumatran, the Malayan, the Caspian, the Javan, and the Bali. Of these, the Caspian, the Javan, and the Bali are extinct, the South Chinese is extinct in the wild, and the rest are endangered.

7. A tiger’s lifespan is usually 10 to 15 years.

Tigers are typically nocturnal and solitary animals. At the beginning of their lives, they spend two and a half years with their mothers before venturing out to live the rest of their days alone.

8. Many cultures consider the tiger to be a symbol of strength and courage.


iStock

However, that comes with drawbacks, as hunting them is also considered a sign of bravery. In Asia, tigers are one of the top five animals that people pay huge amounts of money for the "privilege" of hunting. In addition, it is believed that at least 60 percent of China’s billion-plus inhabitants use medicines with tiger-derived ingredients. The booming economies (and related personal incomes) in Southeast Asia have caused demand and prices for tiger-related products to soar; in general, the international trade in wildlife products is an estimated $6 billion-a-year business.

9. All tigers are carnivores, but carnivores with manners.

Male tigers usually hunt and feast alone. However, if they have a family, they will let the female tigress and her cubs eat first. Their typical diet consists mainly of pigs, deer, rhinos, and elephant calves, and they are capable of eating up to 21 kilograms of meat per day.

10. Tigers can have as many as seven cubs.

Close-up of a rare albino tiger, or white tiger
iStock

Adult females generally produce a litter every two years. However, only about half of the litter survives, because the mother cannot abandon the group long enough to kill the prey necessary to sustain them all. The cubs only join their mother for the hunt after eight to 10 months of careful instruction from mom.

11. Tigers rely heavily on their teeth for survival.

Tigers' jaws are made for "snapping necks, crunching through bone and sinew, and grinding meat into mouthfuls soft enough to swallow." Their canine teeth are especially sharp, and are packed full of nerve endings that allow for hunting and attacking with precision. If a tiger were to lose its canines, it would no longer be able to kill and would likely starve to death.

This story has been updated for 2019.

10 Essential Products Every Dog Owner Needs

AïKiou/Furbo/Amazon
AïKiou/Furbo/Amazon

Every dog parent wants to spoil their beloved pooch, and there are infinite pet products out there designed to help you do so. Here are 10 essentials every dog owner needs, whether you just brought home a new puppy or are just looking to add to your loyal friend’s collection of pet accessories.

1. Nite Ize Nite Dawg Dog Collar; $14–$17

A Golden Retriever wears a light-up collar while walking through a field.
Nite Ize/Amazon

Keep your pooch safe at all hours with a reflective, light-up collar that will make them visible from any angle at distances of up to 1000 feet. The LED lights on the battery-powered Nite Ize Nite Dawg collar feature flashing and glow modes for maximum visibility. The collar is also water-resistant for rainy days (or pond-loving dogs) and is designed to run for 100 hours before you need to change its batteries. It comes in four different sizes that will fit pups of all shapes, sizes, and breeds.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Chase ’n Chomp Amazing Squeaker Ball; $8

A Chase 'n Chomp squeaker ball
Chase 'n Chomp/Amazon

We’ve written about the amazing staying power of Chase ’n Chomp’s squeaker ball before, because according to pet owners, it’s virtually indestructible. Amazon reviewers swear their dogs love it: One even says her German Shepherd’s relationship with her squeaker ball is “like Golem with his magic ring—it’s that serious!”—which is about the highest praise we can imagine. The squeaker will outlast even the most intense chewing, and in case your dog is a swimmer, it floats, too.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Pooch Selfie Camera Attachment; $10

A device that allows you to take selfies with your dog
Pooch Selfie/Amazon

The Pooch Selfie smartphone attachment is the easiest way to make sure the camera loves your pup as much as you do. The mount allows you to affix a tennis ball on top of your phone, giving your dog something enticing to look at so that you can capture the perfect photo of the two of you. It comes with a squeaky ball designed to get your dog’s attention, but any standard tennis ball will work. The clasp will fit on most smartphones and smartphone cases.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Pogi’s Eco-Friendly Pee Pads; $10

A package of puppy pee pads
Pogi's Pet Supplies/Amazon

House-training accidents are unavoidable, but you don’t need to worry about your furry friend ruining your floors. Pogi’s absorbent pee pads are made with plant-based, renewable materials so that you don’t have to feel guilty about hurting the environment for the sake of convenience. Better yet, the adhesive backing won’t slide around on hard floors, and the quilted core stops odors and leaks in their tracks. They also contain a dog attractant designed to make sure your pooch goes on the pad, not your floor. And they’re not just for puppies—pee pads are an excellent choice for older dogs or any pup that has trouble holding it in between walks. And if you just can’t convince your dog to stop marking its territory, dog diapers and wraps are a good option. (Mental Floss’s resident office dog, Simba, looks adorable in his.)

Buy it: Amazon

5. KONG Stuff-a-Ball-Toy; $11–$15

An adorable dog playing with a KONG toy
KONG/Amazon

Unless you want to spend hundreds of dollars on dental cleanings and tooth extractions later in your dog’s life, you probably want to take care of their teeth. That doesn’t necessarily mean getting up in their molars with a toothbrush. There are plenty of dental chews and tooth-friendly toys, including this one from beloved pet toy brand KONG. The puzzle toy one can be stuffed with treats or peanut butter, and as your dog chews at it to extract its contents, the exterior ridges will clean their teeth. It comes in three different sizes and is designed to withstand even the toughest chewers.

Buy it: Amazon

6. iFetch Automatic Ball Launcher; $119

Your dog’s stamina for playing fetch probably far outweighs your own, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for saying no to those begging puppy-dog eyes. You can now outsource your playtime to a robot. The iFetch automatic ball launcher is made to play with your dog when you cannot. The interactive gadget can be programmed to throw balls 10, 20, or 30 feet, depending on the size of your home and your dog’s stamina, and comes with miniature balls designed for smaller dogs. (The company also makes a version that can launch a standard tennis ball up to 40 feet, called the iFetch Too, which is available on Amazon for $200.)

Buy it: Amazon

7. Burt’s Bees for Dogs Oatmeal Shampoo $5–$49

A bottle of Burt's Bees dog shampoo
Burt's Bees, Amazon

No matter the breed, size, or hair type, your dog is bound to get stinky at some point. And while you’ll want to bathe them, you don’t want to irritate their skin. This colloidal oatmeal shampoo from Burt’s Bees promises to clean, soothe, and soften your dog’s dry skin and fur and reduce itching. It’s pH balanced, tear-free, and perfect for sensitive skin.

Buy it: Amazon

8. AïKiou Interactive Dog Bowl; $22

A dog dish where they have to dig through and find the food
AïKiou/Amazon

Challenge your dog’s mind while keeping their body trim with an interactive puzzle feeder that forces them to work for their dinner. Aikiou’s interactive bowl provides more of a challenge than most slow-feeding puzzle bowls, forcing your dog to nose through each of the “toe caps” on the paw-shaped bowl to reveal the kibble beneath—similar to the foraging behavior your pup would use in the wild.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Furbo Dog Camera; Starting at $160

A Furbo dog camera throwing a treat.
Furbo/Amazon

Furbo’s dog cam allows you to do more than just check in on your dog while you’re at work. You can view your pup on the high-definition, wide-angle livestream 24/7 with night vision capabilities. You can fill the robot with treats and use your phone to direct it to through treats for your pup. And you can calm an anxious dog with the bark-alert feature, which allows the Furbo to detect when your dog is barking so that you can see what’s going on and talk to them through the associated app. It can also detect a flurry of movement, such as if your dog is jumping on the couch, chewing cords, or pacing anxiously. Several users say these alerts have proved key in an emergency, detecting them to house fires, carbon monoxide leaks, and dogs tearing through massive bags of chocolate.

Buy it: Amazon

10. BarkBox; $16 for the first box

An adorable dog standing next to his/her BarkBox subscription
BarkBox/Amazon

If you can’t choose what to buy your pup, let BarkBox choose for you. Each monthly subscription box comes with two bags of treats, a dental chew, and at least two toys around a specific theme, like “Knights of the Hound Table” and “Chewrassic Park.” You can choose to receive small, medium, or large toys; specify if your dog has food allergies; and decide between a one-month, six-month, or 12-month subscription. First time subscribers get their initial box for $16, after that it’s $29 a month.

Buy it: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Witness Pure Feline Bliss With This Cats on Catnip Calendar

Workman Calendars/Amazon
Workman Calendars/Amazon

Cats have a certain dignity about them that has long commanded respect from their human counterparts—from the ancient Egyptians, who used to worship the feline goddess Bastet; to modern-day artists, who consider cats a subject of fascination. But no matter the height of the pedestal we place them on, most cats are happy to leave respectability behind in favor of rolling around on the floor for hours on end at the first whiff of some sweet, sweet catnip. And now you can enjoy the best of their antics with this 2020 Cats on Catnip wall calendar, which is available on Amazon for $7.

A cat enjoying catnip
Workman Calendars/Amazon

From suddenly turning wide-eyed and crazy to staring wistfully off into space, felines respond to catnip in a variety of ways, which is captured on all 12 months of the calendar. In the month of January, for example, you’ll find a cat named Sasha on the verge of passing out as her tongue lazily laps up some stray 'nip, while February’s cat, Piper, looks to be in a frenzy over the stuff.

The calendar is an adaptation of the book Cats on Catnip (available on Amazon for $10) by Andrew Marttila, a professional photographer best known for his work with felines. And if you have a cat friend at home and want to capture some of their hilarious moments, be sure to pre-order Marttila’s new book, How to Take Awesome Photos of Cats, which will be available in the spring.

As entertaining as it is to watch a cat indulge on some 'nip, only about half the world’s felines actually respond to the green stuff. Learn why by heading here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER