STATUS IN THE WILD: Critically Endangered
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
There are currently six different subspecies of tiger with the Sumatran being the smallest, ranging from 180 to 310 pounds, with the males being larger. The Sumatran tigers have heavy black stripes that are closer together than other subspecies. This subspecies also has long light colored cheek hair, white hair above the eyes, and white spots on the back of the ears. Similar to fingerprints, no two tigers have the same stripe patterns. Like all tigers, this species has sharp teeth with powerful jaws and an agile body. Tigers are built to take down large prey. In order to do this, they have heavily-muscled arms and shoulders and paws with large retractable claws.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
Tigers are primarily solitary but often communicate with others. No two tigers of the same gender have overlapping territories, but each individual will know who surrounds and overlaps them. A male’s territory is larger and will overlap with one to seven female territories. They communicate with each other using roars, grunts, scent marks, and scratch posts. Unlike most cats, tigers are known for their love of water. Webbing between their toes makes Sumatran tigers fast swimmers, but their water speeds do not compare to their ability on land. In pursuit, they can reach high speeds in dense vegetation for a short amount of time. They are capable of jumping up to sixteen feet high and twenty-seven feet horizontally. The tiger is a stalk-and-ambush predator. One will watch its prey, waiting for the right time, before sprinting for a short distance so the prey is in striking distance. Then the tiger will grab the prey with its forepaws and bring it to the ground before delivering a crushing bite to the neck or throat. A tiger eats thirty to forty pounds of meat in one sitting and must kill about once per week. A tiger’s hunt is only successful once in ten to twenty attempts.
There is no definite breeding season, but a tigress, or female tiger, will go into heat every three to nine weeks. Tigers only come together for breeding and will stay together for about three days. To ensure breeding is successful, a pair will copulate around one hundred times during their stay together. Gestation is about one hundred days, at which point the female will give birth to one to six cubs. The cubs are born blind and weigh about two pounds. They will stay with their mother for around two years, learning how to survive and hunt before striking out on their own. Female cubs will often take a territory next to their mother or take over part of her territory.
This subspecies is only found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Sumatran tigers require large areas with forest cover, water, and suitable food sources, most likely in tropical rainforests.
Tigers are opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything available. Their prey ranges from amphibians to large deer or domestic animals like cows or goats.