Who is it?
The Bengal tiger, one of six subspecies of tiger in the world, is the only feline with striped fur. Its large size make it the largest felids (carnivores which feed almost exclusively on animals they kill). The gorgeous white tiger are a variety of the Indian subspecies. Its off-white or cream colour is due to a recessive mutation, that is, a faulty transcription of the genetic code in the gene responsible for colour (when both the mother and the father are carriers of said gene). They generally have pink-coloured pupils and a blue iris. The tones range from toasty grey to black.
In the last century, hunting and the destruction of the forests have reduced the population of tigers: it has gone from hundreds of thousands of individuals to fewer than 2,500. Conservation programmes are of great importance.
What are its habits?
A wild species par excellence, it lives where felids abound and it is particularly adapted for hunting.
Its furs acts to camouflage it among the shades of the trees or the grass. It patrols its territory at night, alone: it is very furtive, so much so that its legs barely touch the ground.
Tigers are among the top predators, behind only bears.
In the breeding season, however, they are surprisingly tender: male and female are very tolerant of each other. They reach sexual maturity at the age of three years and usually have litters of two to three cubs (after a gestation lasting 103 days).
Did you know…
Tigers live longer in zoos than in the wild, where their average life span is between eight and 10 years. In captivity they may attain 26 years of age.