The tiger (Panthera tigris
) is the largest member of the cat
family, even larger than the lion
. They are able to knock down animal
s weighing more than twice what they do, and they can themselves weigh up to 800 pounds.
Tigers are famous for their orange (or more rarely, white) coats with black stripes, a camouflage pattern that helps them blend into tall grass or forests. They are solitary hunters who ambush their prey from about 30 feet away, leaping in to bite the throat or back of the neck. They like to swim, unlike many felines, and will chase prey into the water. Once they've killed, they will drag the carcass into seclusion to eat.
There were eight subspecies of tiger; three are now extinct, but the other five roam throughout much of Asia. Tigers in general are endangered because their habitat is being built over, especially in India, because they are hunted for their fur and their bones (which are ground into a supposed aphrodisiac) and because they will kill livestock and people if they have no other food. There may be only about 6,000 left in the wild.