Tigers Diet

Image of a chital deer
Chital Deer in India

Tigers, regardless of their subspecies, are carnivorous animals. This means that they eat meat and will not ordinarily consider any sort of vegetation to be part of their diet. In order to eat, the tiger must hunt for its prey; a process that is taught to the cubs by the mother when they are only a few months old to train them for survival on their own. In cases where food is not available or for the purposes of easing digestion, the tiger will eat berries, grasses and different types of fruit.

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The favoured prey of tigers is various species of deer and the succulent wild boar. The availability of prey does, of course, depend on the specific area in which the tiger resides and what is most prolific there. In an area that is not well populated by animals, tigers may have to resort to eating rodents, small birds, insects, and so on. However, the most common diet options for tigers include sambar, chital (also known as the Spotted Deer or Axis Deer), sika deer, nilgai, buffalo, gaur (a bovine species), monkeys, civets, porcupines, and even fish, frogs, crabs, monitor lizards, and snakes. When available and vulnerable, a tiger will not shy away from attacking a baby elephants or baby rhino. Still, the tiger is not afraid of it prey, and will not discriminate between healthy adult animals or weak, sickly ones. The tiger’s best hunting conditions are on cool, cloudy days or as the sun is setting.

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Image of a tiger eating
Tiger eating

It is very rare for tigers to hunt in pairs or packs, as they are independent and solitary by nature, and prefer to hunt alone. They are not opportunistic scavengers, but actively stalk and hunt prey, going in search of it when and as necessary. The stealthy cat will hide itself among the foliage, waiting for the perfect moment to launch itself in attack on the unsuspecting prey. The tiger usually attacks from the side or the back; a position in which the prey is not as aware of its presence. It inches forward gradually until it reaches a distance at which it can charge ahead and grab the prey before it has a chance to escape. Usually, it pounces on its prey, using the front claws to grab the prey by its neck, shoulders and / or back. As it powerfully pulls its victim to the ground, it uses its mighty jaws to break the neck (behind the head) or rip out the throat. This means that the victim experiences the shortest, least stressful death possible.

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Once the prey has been captured and (usually) killed, it will be dragged off to a secluded spot so that the hunter can enjoy it in peace and safety. Then, the tiger will dine appreciatively from the carcass. The tiger will need to consume as much meat as possible, as it may not make another kill for several days. Therefore, they have been created with the ability to consume up to about 40 pounds (or 18 kilograms) of food in one sitting.

If the carcass is in a safe place, the tiger may be able to return to it for a few days and take advantage of the convenient meal. Even flesh that has begun rotting does not deter the peckish cat. A kill is made approximately once every eight days with only a fraction of the attempts being successful. If it is able to do so, a tiger may chase other hunters away from their kill and eat their prey.

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Female tigers live and hunt within their own specific territory. Males, on the other hand, will hunt wherever they can, encroaching on the territory of other tigers.