What is a tiger’s habitat?
Tigers can live in many habitats, depending on where they live and what kind of tiger they are.
Here we will explore all the different habitats that a tiger might live in, but before we do this, let’s have a quick look at the different types of tigers first, shall we?
Different kinds of tiger
Tigers are the most prominent members of the cat species, and their particular species name is Panthera Tigris. There are nine subspecies of tigers. However, three of them are extinct now. Tigers also make up one of the big four that can roar!
Did you know: Each tiger’s stripes are unique and individual, just like human fingerprints; no two are the same!
Here are the nine different types of tigers:
The Amur/ Siberian tiger. These tigers are the largest of the remaining subspecies, with males growing more than 10.5 feet (from head to tail) and weighing up to 660 pounds. Females are smaller but can still rise to an impressive 8.5 feet (head to bottom) and weigh up to 370 pounds.
Siberian tigers are characterized by their brown, as opposed to black, stripes. In addition, they have white bellies and a white ruff of fur around their necks. Their orange hair is paler than the other tiger sub-species too.
Siberian tigers are primarily in Eastern Russia, though some are located in China and Noth Korea.
The Bengal/ Indian tiger. This category of tiger boasts the most significant number of subspecies. Despite this, they are still endangered on the IUCN Red List. However, they are probably the most well-known and widely recognized out of all the tigers.
The Bengal tiger can be identified by their yellow to light orange coat, and its stripes range from dark brown to black. Their tales are orange with black rings. Some Indian tigers also possess a recessive gene, which can cause their fur to appear cream or white. These ‘white’ or ‘albino’ tigers are rarely found in the wild but can be found in captivity.
Bengal tigers live in India, and they are the national animal of India and Bangladesh.
The South China Tiger. The South China tiger is listed as Critically Endangered on the Red List, one level above Endangered. The WWF report that these tigers are functionally extinct, as most only exist in captivity.
The exact number of South China tigers in the wild, if any at all, is largely unknown. It is because 40 years ago, the Chinese Government declared them as pests. With only 4,000 remaining at the time, they were believed to be hunted and killed.
South China tigers, compared to their subspecies, are smaller. They also have broader stipes that are spaced further apart. In addition, they possess lots of distinct markings around their face.
The Malayan Tiger. The Malayan Tiger used to be categorized with the Indo-Chinese tiger until 2004. They are very similar, except the Malayan tiger is smaller.
The Malayan tiger can be found in the tropical and subtropical forests in Southern Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia.
Malayan tigers also have orange-colored fur and black stripes, with white hair on their eyes, cheeks, and bellies. The black lines are generally thinner than the other types of tigers and help provide the perfect camouflage out in the jungle.
The Malayan Tiger is the national symbol of Malaysia, and it can be found on the coat of the Malaysian Army uniform.
These tigers live remotely in hilly and mountainous terrain, so very little is known about their numbers. They are also listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
The Sumatran Tiger. The law protects these tigers in Indonesia, and poachers face harsh jail sentences if they defy these laws. Despite this, tigers are still hunted, and their body parts and skin remain in high demand.
The Sumatran Tiger has the darkest coat out of all the tigers. They can be characterized by their broad black stripes, which are closely spaced and sometimes doubled. The Sumatran tiger also has striped forelegs, unlike the Siberian tiger.
These tigers can only be found on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra.
The Bali Tiger. Sadly, this tiger is now reported as extinct, with the last sighting of the Bali tiger recorded in Western Bali in the late 1930s.
The cause of extinction was mainly due to poaching and their loss of safe habitat, resulting in a loss of prey. There are no Bali Tigers in captivity, either.
The Javan Tiger. These tigers, unfortunately, are also extinct. Their last record is from Java’s Meru Betrir National Park in 1976.
Again, these tigers were hunted out of existence, and their habitat was converted for human use.
The Capsian Tiger. The last of our nine big cats, and also now extinct. The Capsian Tiger was declared extinct in the 1970s.
Before their extinction, Caspian tigers were one of the largest subspecies of tigers, with a muscular physique, wide paws, and massive claws. They fed on wild boar and sometimes red deer, roe deer, and dogs too.
Like the other extinct tigers, the Caspian Tiger was heavily hunted in the early twentieth century. As a result, they also suffered from a loss of natural habitat and loss of prey. Capsian Tigers were native to Turkey, Iran, Asia, Afghanistan, and China.
What is a habitat?
A habitat is a place where any organism makes its home. For a habitat to thrive, it needs to meet a particular set of requirements so that the organism can survive. For tigers, there must be the right weather conditions, enough food in the form of prey, and plenty of mating opportunities.
As such, the main factors that indicate the suitability of habitat are; shelter, food, water, and space. A habitat is said to be appropriate when it has the right balance of all of these. Sometimes it might be the case that an area meets only some criteria but not all. Or, a habitat may start meeting all the requirements but become inhabitable over time. This can be due to natural causes, climate change, or human activity and interference.
Different kinds of habitats for a tiger:
As we can see, many types of tigers live worldwide. Of course, they will live in different conditions, too, from the sun to the snow. It seems that tigers can weather it all.
Though we have briefly touched upon where each tiger can be found, we can now take a more in-depth look at the question of what is a tiger’s habitat.
Perhaps the most striking of habitats for a tiger is Russia’s, Birch Forest. These tigers’ habitat is home to the Siberian Tiger, which has a far harsher northern climate than the other tigers. Here you will find long, cold, and dark winters accompanied by mild summers that bring tropical storms and typhoons. Winds from Siberia bring in more relaxed, dry air, causing lots of snow. January can reach temperatures as low as -20 degrees; yikes!
However, the advantage of this habitat is that the forests see a much lower human population than other tigers’ habitats. As a result, tigers are less likely to face threats from human interference and hunting. In addition, the vast woodlands allow the tiger lots of room to roam and provide a healthy ecosystem.
However, Asia hosts the most tigers, offering a home to the Bengal. Bengal tigers can be found throughout India. Smaller tigers, such as the Malayan and the Indo-Chinese tiger, tend to live in southern, warmer countries such as Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
Tigers can live in a variety of environments. Here are some more facts about tigers’ habitats:
- Evergreen Forests: Made up of evergreen trees, they exist in a range of climates and can contain acacia, banksia, and eucalyptus trees in more temperate zones. Because there is no seasonal loss of leaves, the trees provide excellent shade and cover for tigers to evade hunters and stalk their prey.
- Mangrove Swamps: Formed by mangrove trees in slightly salty tidal waters, mangrove swamps are found in coastal areas. They help to create a diverse ecosystem that is rich in wildlife. The Sundarbans Mangrove area between India and Bangladesh is the home of the Bengal tiger.
- Tropical Rainforests: Found near the Earth’s equator, the world’s largest tropical rainforests receive about 150 cm to 400 cm of rain per year. The combination of moisture and warmth makes them the most biodiverse places on the planet. Rich in wildlife, tropical rainforests are an excellent habitat for the carnivorous tiger.
- Savannahs: Characterized by grasses and trees spread out so they do not create a canopy, the savannah has rainfall in one season of the year. It provides a large area for the tiger to roam.
- Grasslands: Offercontinuous covering of grasses and fewer taller plants, like trees and shrubs; grassland areas are the most common in the world. They’re home to larger mammals which are the tigers’ prey.
- Mountains: With steep sides and exposed bedrock, mountains are elevated areas of the Earth’s crust. Amazingly, some tigers inhabit mountain regions. In 2010, a population of Bengal tigers was found at 13,000 feet in the Himalayas.
The vast array of habitats a tiger can thrive in demonstrates what an adaptable creature they are. Though tigers are not naturally found in Africa, Europe, America, or in captivity, they have been known to survive remarkably well in these places.
What do tigers eat?
For tigers to get on in their habitat, there must be an abundance of food to keep them alive. It may be no surprise to hear that all tigers are carnivores; they eat meat. Therefore, most tigers’ diets consist of large prey, like deer, rhinos, elephant calves, or pigs.
To kill their prey, tigers will attempt to clamp down on the subject’s neck with their jaws to suffocate the animal. The teeth of a tiger possess pressure-sensing nerves, so they know exactly where to deliver the fatal blow. Tigers are strong and fierce animals but only succeed in 10% of their hunts.
Threats to a tiger’s habitat:
Over the years, the number of tigers has dramatically decreased, with three subspecies becoming extinct and the other six classed as endangered or critically enlarged. As a result, the future of our tigers is uncertain.
As a form of conversation, many tigers now live in captivity. But this is far from ideal, and tigers bred in captivity have little to no chance of survival in the wild. Tigers in captivity are also often subjected to cruelty and abuse. At best, they cannot flourish as they would in the wild; at worst, they are killed for entertainment.
Tigers should remain in their natural habitats. However, they face multiple threats to their homes in the form of:
Human Action or Interference. Covers a wide range of activities, from poaching to inhabiting the land to destroying areas for commercial purposes.
Poaching or Hunting. Despite local laws and conservation efforts, many tigers are still hunted and killed.
Lack of Prey. As the population of tigers decreases, so are the numbers of other species. With less food to eat, tigers become at risk of starvation.
Climate Change. Climate change can affect the amount of water and shelter available to tigers.
As we have already discussed, the lack of food, water, shelter, and mating opportunities will affect a tiger’s habitat.