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Tiger Appearance

Tigers are renowned the world around for their undeniable beauty, grace and form. They are characteristically known, even amongst very young children, for their boldly striped golden coats and their lithesome, strong bodies. In fact, it is this golden fur with distinctive stripes that is the tiger’s most prominent physical characteristic across the various species. However, this does not mean that all species look the same. In truth, they vary considerably.

The largest of the tigers, the Siberian Tiger, can reach almost 300 kilograms (or 650 pounds) and up to four metres in length, including a tail of about a metre long. Other tigers can be as small as a third of this size.

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Image of a close up of a tiger
Close up of a tiger.

Tigers are renowned the world around for their undeniable beauty, grace and form. They are characteristically known, even amongst very young children, for their boldly striped golden coats and their lithesome, strong bodies. In fact, it is this golden fur with distinctive stripes that is the tiger’s most prominent physical characteristic across the various species. However, this does not mean that all species look the same. In truth, they vary considerably.

The largest of the tigers, the Siberian Tiger, can reach almost 300 kilograms (or 650 pounds) and up to four metres in length, including a tail of about a metre long. Other tigers can be as small as a third of this size.

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The coat of the tiger ranges from a light fawn colour to a rich auburn gold. The actual colour depends on where in the world the tiger is situated. Those animals in the north are generally light in colour, becoming darker and darker the further south their habitat is. Not only does the base colour change intensity, but so do the stripes, which run across the width of the animal (and not from front to back).

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Image of green bar

They can vary from dark brown to intense black. The earthy-coloured coat and its black stripes help the tiger to remain camouflaged in the grasses and the shade cast by the trees or reeds that conceal the predators. In the cases of black tigers and white tigers, these are genetic variations of the Bengal Tiger, and not species within their own rights. No matter how dark the coat, the underside of the tiger remains light or white.

Beneath the coloured coat that is visible to onlookers lies a soft under-fur. This serves to insulate the tiger, keeping it warm and relatively dry in light drizzle.

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Image of green bar

In tiger habitats that are cold, these animals have adapted by sporting a long, dense coat to keep them protected from frost, wind and rain. In the warm areas, this coat becomes much thinner and shorter. This testifies to the wonderful adaptive nature of animals in the wild. In general, the hair around the face is longer than on the rest of the body; particularly for male tigers, who boast an impressive scruff as a result.

The tiger’s hind legs are longer than those in the front, which allows them to jump powerfully. So well developed are the muscles and ligaments that the tiger can jump some 10 metres in one leap, which is more than 32 feet. The padded feet allow the tiger to hunt stealthily, without being heard by the prey, while the long claws (about 10 centimetres long, in fact) enable the animal to grab, clutch and tear its prey.

The tongue has a rough surface caused by papillae, or rasps. This helps the tiger to rid its prey of fur and feathers with a few firm licks.

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On the back of each of the tiger’s ears is a distinct round, white spot. When viewed from behind, these serve as false eyes so that potential predators are under the impression that the tiger is alert and watching them. When one of these gorgeous animals is being threatened, it will likely twist its ears, revealing these white spots. This makes it appear more aggressive.

Appreciating the beauty of the tiger not only deepens our appreciation of their magnificence, but also reveals much about their lives, habits and adaptations.

Image of a Siberian Tiger cub in winter.
Siberian Tiger cub in winter.
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On the back of each of the tiger’s ears is a distinct round, white spot. When viewed from behind, these serve as false eyes so that potential predators are under the impression that the tiger is alert and watching them. When one of these gorgeous animals is being threatened, it will likely twist its ears, revealing these white spots. This makes it appear more aggressive.

Appreciating the beauty of the tiger not only deepens our appreciation of their magnificence, but also reveals much about their lives, habits and adaptations.

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