Panthera tigris



The tiger is a carnivorous mammal of the Felidae family, of which is largest species in size. The tiger, in addiction to being the biggest living wild felid, it is also one of the most massive land predators. The original distribution area stretched over the entire Asia, from Turkey to the east coast of Russia. A progressive and significant decline has been observed since the twentieth century. It has brought the tiger to lose the 93% of its original area of distribution and to disappear from Central Asia, from the islands of Java and Bali and from large areas of southeastern and eastern Europe. On the basis of morphological and phylogenetic analysis (by DNA analysis), nine different subspecies were distinguished, of witch three are now extinct. The tiger’s dimensions are highly variable: a Siberian tiger can exceed 3 meters in length and 300 kg in weight, while the smallest subspecies, the Sumatran tiger, does not weigh more than 140 kg for a length of just more than 2 meters. The females are more petite than the males. Like all the big felids (members of the genus Panthera: tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard and snow leopard), the tiger can roar thanks by a partial ossification of the hyoid bone, a median bone situated at the base of the tongue.
Distinctive feature is the striped camouflage mantle, that serves to optically break up the outlines of an animal (disruptive coloration) and to merge it with the play of lights and shadows of the forest and of the tall grasses. The typical tiger colouring is brown or black stripes on a yellow-orange, but there are individuals with a white fur striated with black. The so-called white tigers are not albinos; this colour is a unique feature of the Bengal subspecies, the only carrier of the recessive gene that can generate the whiteness.
The tiger shows a high degree of adaptability, being able to colonize a wide range of habitats, from the hot and humid tropical rain forests to the cold forests of conifers and birch trees, from sea level mangrove forests to mountain environments at more than 4,000 meters. The tigers are solitary and territorial animals, that share their space only during mating season. Unlike other cats, it is not a skilled climber and is particularly attracted to the water. The tiger spends most of its time resting or sleeping; it moves at dawn or dusk and often remains active at night too. Given its dimension, the tiger is capable of killing preys of considerable size, even four or five times bigger than this felid. Usual preys are deers, wild boars and gaurs. The adult tiger has no natural predators. In captivity, there have been some cases of breeding between lions and tigers. The hybrid resulting from the coupling between a male lion and a tigress is said liger, while the cross between a lioness and a male tiger is called tigon.

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