Bengal Tiger Facts
The Bengal tiger combines great power with lethal cunning. In India, it is feared above all predators by animals and humans alike.
The Bengal tiger combines great power with lethal cunning. In India, it is feared above all predators by animals and humans alike. The Bengal tiger's night vision is six times better than humans. A mirror-like layer at the back of the eye reflects extra light. The tiger's hearing is its sharpest sense. White spots behind the ears help these tigers identify one another in the jungle. Every tiger has a unique pattern of black stripes on an orange coat. This breaks up the body's outline in dense cover. The Bengal tiger's claws are used to grip prey and scratch trees. They retract when the tiger walks to remain sharp and allow it to stalk prey silently. Its long teeth are used to stab and kill its prey. Molars behind these teeth act like scissors, slicing strips of flesh from a carcass.
The Bengal tiger is adaptable to its environment. An excellent swimmer, the tiger is also the most water-loving of all the big cats. It can often be found near rivers and shady ponds. The tiger occupies a home range that is dense in vegetation. A large range allows the tiger to find plenty of food while good cover helps it stalk its prey. The Bengal tiger usually breeds in the spring and will mate over three to seven days. The male leaves after a couple of days with the female and has no other part in rearing the cubs. About 15 weeks later, two to four cubs are born. Tiger cubs are suckled up to 6 months. Once weaned, the cubs join their mother, hunting to learn the skills needed to survive on their own. By the age of 15-18 months, the cubs are able to feed themselves.
Bengal tigers are thought to be solitary animals, but actually they simply need a lot of space to hunt, so they are social at a distance. The male's territory will usually overlap several females. The Bengal tiger will visit most of its territory within a few days and it will mark its boundaries by shredding the bark of trees with its claws. Then it sprays a strong smelling urine, which reinforces the boundaries. The messages will include the owner's sex, size, social status, and, for females, breeding status. These messages are essential to the tigers' society: they help tigers avoid competition for food, as well as conflicts over territory.
The tiger can kill prey large enough for several meals at a time. Once it has eaten its fill, it covers the remains of its prey with leaves and returns each night until it is finished.