Tigers are some of the most beautiful, majestic animals on earth. It is the largest member of the felid (cat) family but despite what we know about animals, there is still a great deal of what we do not know mixed up with common misconceptions or confusion with other large cats. There were once nine subspecies of tigers namely: Malayan, Siberian, Indochinese, Bengal, South Chinese, Sumatran, Caspian, Javan and Bali. Of these, the last three are extinct, one is extinct in the wild, and the rest are endangered species. You may think you know a lot about tigers but these 10 unusual tiger facts might come as a surprise to you.

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1. Water

Although most cats do not like water, tigers are good swimmers. They enjoy playing, bathing, and swimming in the water. Tigers are also skilled at hunting in the water.

Tiger drinking water

2. Markings

Tigers are thought of in some cultures as a noble animal. It is believed that the markings on their forehead look a lot like the Chinese symbol for king. Just like the domestic house cat, if a tiger’s fur were shaved off,  its skin would show the same markings as its fur. Like a human fingerprint, each stripe on a tiger is unique to a specific animal. Tiger fur also comes in numerous colors including gold, white, black, and also blue. The Maltese tiger is said to be blue, however, there is no confirmation that these tigers actually exist.

Tigers mark - tiger facts

3. Tongue

Tigers do not lap up water when drinking. They flip drops of water into the air and catch them. A tiger’s saliva can be used to clean their wounds due to its disinfecting properties.

4. Fertility

Tigers mate often because females are only fertile for 4 to 5 days out of the entire year. The tigress’s gestational period takes about 3 months, and they typically give birth to 2 to 3 cubs.

Tigers mating - tiger facts

5. Hunting

Tigers prefer to perform sneak attacks on their prey. If you are ever being attacked by a tiger, look them in the eyes. If the tiger knows you are aware of it, its ambush is foiled and chances are it will retreat. While walking through the forests of India, people would wear masks on the back of their heads to thwart a tiger ambush. Tigers are able to adapt their killing techniques, but they usually kill their prey through strangulation. Tigers use their powerful jaws to bite through skin and even bone. Unlike other cat species, male tigers allow females and cubs to eat first.

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6. Medicinal uses

Poaching tigers in China has been illegal for many years and is punishable by death. In ancient Chinese medical practices, tiger parts were used medicinally. Once thought to be used as aphrodisiacs, their real use was to treat such ailments as digestive issues and arthritis. However, today this misconception is being practiced again, and tiger parts are once again being used as aphrodisiacs.

7. Memory and brain

Aside from the polar bear, a tiger has the largest brain of all carnivores and is similar in size to the Chimpanzee’s. Overall, cats have a better memory than all other animals and this includes humans. Their memory is numerous times better than other primates and significantly better than dogs. Surprisingly, tiger memories are made up of stronger brain synapses than a human brain, and their short-term memory endures 30 times longer than ours does. Due to these stronger brain synapses, they do not forget things and remember things more easily than we do.


8. Hybrids

Tigers in captivity can be mated with other animals like lions, jaguars and leopards. The hybrid mix between tigers and lions are known as tiglons and ligers. Tiglons are smaller than ligers, which are the biggest cats in the world. A tiger and jaguar mix is known as a jagger or a tiguar. So far, only one of these male tiguar hybrids has survived. All tiger jaguar mixes have been stillborn.

9. Species

There are only six subspecies of tiger left in the world today, which include the South China, the Bengal, the Malayan, the Siberian, Indochinese, and the Sumatran tiger. The Javan, Caspian, and Bali tigers are all extinct today. All of them became extinct due to loss of habitant or hunting. All except the Bali tiger that was strictly hunted to extinction because they were thought to be evil. Although six subspecies of tiger still exist, there numbers are few.

10. Eyes

While most cats are nocturnal, tigers are not. They do the majority of their hunting early in the morning or late in the evening. Due to this, tigers have different eyes than other cats with round not slitted pupils.

Tiger eyes

Even though poaching is illegal, sadly it is still in practice today. The Tiger’s numbers continue to dwindle, and these species remains in danger of extinction. These are the 10 unusual but basic tiger facts every one should know