(Panthera tigris)

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Physical characteristics and distribution

Tiger Panthera tigris

Head and body length of P. tigris ranges from 1,400 - 2,800 mm with a tail length of 600-950 mm. Weights of males are between 180-306 kg. and females, 100-167. The subspecies P. tigris altaica, found in southeastern Siberia and Manchuria, is the largest living cat. The upperparts and flanks are reddish orange to reddish ochre, underparts are creamy or white. The head, body, tail and limbs all have distinctive stripes of black or brownish black. A rare color variation has a whitish coat, dark stripes and blue eyes.

P. tigris is found in a variety of habitats throughout its region, requiring adequate shelter, water and prey. Tropical rainforests, evergreen forests, mangrove swamps, grasslands, savannahs, and rocky terrain can all provide these necessities for this carnivore. A good swimmer, P. tigris has been known to swim distances of 29 km. Although it prefers not to climb trees it is extremely capable of doing so and can make a vertical leap of up to 10 m. Two or three favorite dens are usually within the animal's territory, in hollow trees, caves or dense vegetation.

Sight and hearing are P. tigris' most valuable senses when hunting. After killing its prey, P. tigris drags it to an sheltered area or near water. The prey will be covered with vegetation to hide it, returning to the carcass several times in following days for additional meals. Larger prey animals are preferred such as pigs, deer, antelope, buffalo and guar. While P. tigris is an excellent hunter, it fails 90 percent of the time it attacks, assuring that its food source will not be depleted. Territory is dependent on the amount of food available. Ranges of same gender animals do not overlap, but one male’s range may overlap those of several females. Animals are generally solitary with the exceptions being mating pairs and females with young. Vocalizations, or roaring, announce that a tiger has made a kill and often a group of animals in the area will share the quarry. Roaring may also be done to attract a mate. Other vocalizations include purring and grunting while scratches and scent marking with urine and feces communicate other important messages.

Females generally give birth every 2- 2.5 yrs, sometimes waiting as many as 4 yrs between litters. If a litter is lost, however, another can be produced within about 5 months. Mating can occur any time of year, but usually takes place between November and April. Estrous occurs every 3-9 weeks with receptivity lasting 3-6 days. Average litter size is 2 or 3 young, but can range from 1-6 offspring. Cubs weigh between 780-1,600 g at birth and open their eyes after 6-14 days. They are weaned after 3-6 months and begin traveling with their mother at 5-6 months. Independence usually comes at 2 years of age, sexual maturity is attained at 3-4 years for females and 4-5 years for males. While nearly half of all cubs do not live past the age of 2, life expectancy for P. tigris is about 26 yrs. both in the wild and in captivity.

The Indian Subcontinent is home to more than 80% of the wild tigers in the world. Due to its many clashes with humans, many of which are fatal, P. tigris has been hunted and trapped to an extent which has it listed as endangered by the IUCN and the USDI and it is on appendix 1 of the CITES.

It is now found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia (Sumatra only), Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Description of the brain

Animal source and preparation
All specimens collected followed the same preparation and histological procedure.

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