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Tiger Senses - Taste

As far as the tiger’s senses go, their sense of taste is limited and not used very much in their everyday way of life. This is mainly due to the fact that they are carnivorous, not indulging in a wide variety of different foods, of which vegetation would be included for omnivores like us.

Therefore, they do not have to be able to detect the difference between sweet fruits and those with more pungent flavours, for example.

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Human beings have approximately 9 000 taste buds in their mouths. We are able to distinguish between sweet, sour, bitter and salty flavours as well as between the slight variations within these (for example, we can taste whether our coffee has one or two teaspoons of sugar in it).

Cats (whether wild or domestic) have only about 500 taste buds in their mouths. Researchers have concluded that they are probably able to taste the same flavours that we are, but in far smaller quantities and proportions. This is especially true of sweetness, which is a particularly unimportant flavour for them to enjoy.

This is one of the major reasons that tigers can dine on a meal of meat that has begun rotting. They cannot taste the decaying flesh as human beings would. It, therefore, does not deter them. This lack of regard for food that is clearly not very tasty has frequently saved the lives of tigers that may otherwise have starved.

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Yawning tiger at the Novosibirsk Zoo.
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