Skip to Main Content
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance logo
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library logo

Tiger (Panthera tigris) Fact Sheet: Summary

Tiger (Panthera tigris) Fact Sheet

a tiger

Tiger (Panthera tigris)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Describer: Linnaeus (1758)

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae - all modern cats

Subfamily: Pantherinae

Genus: Panthera

Species: Panthera tigris - tiger

Subspecies: P. t. altaica - Amur tiger (a.k.a. Siberian tiger)
Subspecies: P. t. amoyensis - South China tiger (possibly extinct in wild)
Subspecies: P. t. balica - Bali tiger (extinct)
Subspecies: P. t. corbetti - Indochinese tiger
Subspecies: P. t. jacksoni - Malayan tiger
Subspecies: P. t. sondaica - Javan tiger (extinct)
Subspecies: P. t. sumatrae - Sumatran tiger
Subspecies: P. t. tigris - Bengal tige
Subspecies: P. t. virgata - Caspian tiger (extinct)

Body Weight:
Males: 100-261 kg (200-575 lb); up to 325 kg (716 lb) in zoos
Females: 75-177 kg (170-390 lb)

Head-Body Length :
Males: 189-300 cm (6.20-10 ft)
Females: 146-177 cm (4.79-5.81 ft)

Shoulder Height: 80-100 cm (3 ft)

Tail Length: 72-109 cm (2.4-3.58 ft)

Pelage: Black or brown stripes on a red-orange to golden yellow background.
Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology
  • Bengal Tiger - Indian sub-continent (India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh)
  • Indochinese Tiger - Indochina (north of Malayan peninsula)
  • Malayan Tiger - Peninsular Malaysia
  • Sumatran Tiger - Island of Sumatra
  • Amur Tiger - Russian Far East (Eastern Russia and NE China)
  • South China Tiger - China/Korea

Habitat: Extremely varied; from tropical rain forest to temperate conifer-deciduous forest.

IUCN Status
Species-level assessment: Endangered (2021 assessment)

All living/extant subspecies Endangered or Critically Endangered; see IUCN Status.

CITES Status: All species listed on Appendix I.

Wild Population: 3,726-5,578 individuals (not including cubs); approximately 3,140 mature individuals (range: 2,608-3,905)

Activity Cycle: Active day and night when not hunted by humans.

Social Groups: Solitary, except for females with cubs. Mating pair forms a  temporary association.

Territoriality: Females hold small, mutually exclusive territories. Males hold territories which include as many female ranges as possible; male ranges do not typically overlap.

Communication: Vocalize and scent mark. Roar, purr, grunt, miaow, woof, growl, and hiss. Also produce a sambar, deer-like call. Scent-mark throughout territorial range. Visual signals used in close proximity; posture, facial expression signal intention.

Diet: Consume large and medium deer, wild pigs, antelope, water buffalo, and wild cattle.

Hunting Behavior: Hunt alone, solitary. Stalk-and-ambush prey. Kill by bite to back of neck or strangulation with a throat bite.

Threats: Humans are the only serious predator. Endangered due to hunting, poaching, and trade in tiger parts. Male tigers will rarely kill cubs. Injury from porcupine quills common. Shortage of prey limits available habitat. Habitat loss/fragmentation critical.
Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Males: 4-5 years; females: 3-4 years.

Gestation: Average 103-106 days; range 97-110

Litter Size: 2-3 cubs most often; 1-7 possible

Neonate Weight: 780-1600 g (1.7-3.5 lb)

Age at Weaning: 3-6 months

Typical Life Expectancy:
Wild populations: similar life expectancy to managed care
Managed care: about 14–16 years for Panthera tigris altaica; 16 years for Panthera tigris jacksoni; 18 years for Panthera tigris sumatrae.

Feature Facts

  • Fur appears in a variety of colors, from tan-orange to white, with black stripes
  • Usually found in dense vegetation and close to water
  • Stalk-and-ambush hunters; activity patterns shift with those of their prey
  • Acute sense of hearing
  • Unlike lions, solitary and roar infrequently
  • Powerful leaping, tree climbing, and swimming abilities
  • In the wild, cubs remain with their mothers for up to two years
  • Tigers and humans compete for the same prey
  • Habitat destruction, persecution, and poaching for trade related to traditional medicine pose key threats to tiger survival

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

  • San Diego Zoo: 3-acre Tiger River rain forest ecosystem opened in 1988.
  • San Diego Zoo's Safari Park: 5-acre Tull Family Tiger Trail opened in May 2014 (forested habitat including ponds, climbing rocks, birthing den for Sumatran tigers).

About This Fact Sheet

© 2015-2022 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Population estimates updated Jul 2022. Updated August 2013. Minor updates to Conservation and Managed Care 2017. Subspecies taxonomy updated Oct 2018. Population estimates updated Dec 2019.

How to cite: Tiger (Panthera tigris) Fact Sheet. c2009-2022. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

SDZWA Library Links