Panthera tigris altaica
The largest living felid (cat) in the world, Amur tigers were formerly known as Siberian tigers. Their name changed to reflect their true habitat; they were previously found all over Siberia and can now only be located in the Amur River Valley.
Amur tigers are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In Russia, there are fewer than 400 individuals left. There are approximately 20 individuals in China and they are presumably extinct in India. They have made an impressive comeback since the 1930s when there were as few as 20 tigers left in the world. However, in recent years the population has once again been declining.
Males and females mark territory by spraying a strong-smelling mixture of glandular secretion and urine. Tigers have individual territories that can be as large as 1,600 square miles. A female with cubs will generally stay within a 6 square mile area.
A female signals she is ready to mate by roaring, leaving scratch marks, and “marking fluids.” If many males approach, a battle will occur. A pair will form and remain monogamous for the 5-6 day mating period. Gestation is approximately 3.5 months. Cubs are helpless at birth, weighing about 2 lbs. Litter size ranges from about 2-6. More than 2 are rarely raised to maturity, due to the fierce competition between cubs when they are young. Sexual maturity occurs at 3-4 years. Females breed about once every 2-3 years. Females rear the cubs alone. The cubs depend on their mothers for food for approximately 18 months. They may continue to use their mother’s range until 2.5 years old.
What are they like?
Physical Description: No two tigers have the same pattern of stripes and facial markings. They have the largest canine teeth of any carnivorous land mammal. Tiny, sharp, horny, backward point hooks (papillae) cover the upper surface of their tongue to retain and lacerate food and to rasp meat fragments off carcasses. On average, male Amur tigers weigh up to 400lbs and females weigh up to 260lbs.
Life Span: In the wild, Amur tigers live 10-15 years. In zoos, they can live up to 20 years.
Diet: In the wild, they eat wild boar, elk, lynx, badger, hare, salmon, and other fish. At the Zoo, our Amur tigers eat beef enriched with vitamins and minerals, solid beef, beef shank, and long bones.
Social Structure: Amur tigers are generally solitary. Adults are not necessarily hostile towards each other, with the exception of a mother with cubs towards a male tiger. Male tigers, as with many species with a similar social structure, may kill cubs they find in order to breed with the female. Occasionally you may see small groups of up to six tigers together; these are usually families that have never separated.
Habitat: Amur tigers prefer forest or any area with dense covering. In the summer, they live at an altitude of about 3900 feet, and with the coming of winter, they roam to lower altitudes.
Did you know?
- The Amur tiger's saliva is antiseptic, which comes in handy when a tiger cleans its wounds.
- Tigers hunt alone, actively searching for prey more often than waiting in ambush. However, they are not very efficient hunters. Generally, they only catch their prey 1 in 20 tries.
- Tigers are excellent swimmers, and you can often find ours in their pool on hot days.