What Do Tigers Eat? Explore Tiger Diets, Hunting & Eating Habits

what do tigers eat?
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What do tigers eat? Tigers are one of the biggest cats on the planet. By nature, tigers are carnivores. They eat a good variety of prey depending upon the terrain they live in ranging from termites to baby rhinos and everything in between. In this article, we’ll explore the tiger hunting pattern and exact diet plan for each tiger type.

How Do Tigers Hunt?

tiger chasing preys

Tigers hunt alone rather than in groups. When the tiger cubs are a few months old, the tiger mother involves them in the hunting process, so they get trained at a very younger age. They get proteins from the animal fat. Here are some tiger facts and information on hunting.

  • Tigers rely on their sight rather than the smell of the prey. They use their dark striped skin as an effective camouflage to disguise themselves on the hideouts especially among long grass where they resemble the vertical pattern of light and shade. This allows them to get very close to its prey without being detected before launching an attack.
  • Tigers sit for a long time in absolute silence and then pounce on the prey when it is unexpected.
  • It is estimated that tigers make at least 20 attempts before killing its prey.
  • Tigers furiously run from a complete stand-still position to 50 mph speed in short sprints.
  • Hunting sometimes takes its toll on tigers. Tigers could get seriously injured during the process too if the prey attacks them back (such as crocodiles, porcupines or heavy buffaloes).
  • Male and female tigers hunt differently. Female tigers hunt only within their territories while the male tigers hunt anywhere and anytime.

How Much Does A Tiger Eat?

tiger eating

The average weight of tigers is about 700 lbs. They consume about an average of 35-110 lbs meat at a given time. However this could vary depending upon what they kill (a large hoofed animal vs. rabbit/rodent).

How Often Do Tigers Eat?

Tiger Eating Grass

Typically tigers eat once every two days after feasting on a large mammal. According to the statistics, a tiger kills about one large animal per week thus about 50 to 52 animals in a year.

How Do Tigers Kill Its Prey?

tiger pouncing

Tigers use their front claw which has the built-in expand/retract mechanism as needed while grabbing its prey.

  • They attack the animal either on the side or from the back so that the prey cannot move away that quickly. The first powerful bite would be on the neck to break its neck bone and then rip the throat out.
  • Once killed, the tiger would drag the dead animal to a secluded area to have a peaceful, and quiet meal.
  • Tiger prey suffers quickest and less stressful death.

At What Times Do Tigers Hunt?

tiger best hunt time

If tigers are really hungry and the prey is on the sight, they would hunt right away. Generally tigers prefer hunting on cool or cloudy days. Also, the sunset would be a good time for tigers to go for a kill when the animals wind down after a long day of grazing. According to studies, tiger’s night vision is six times better than human’s night vision.

What Do Tigers Eat?

tiger hunting wild boar

Being apex predator, what animals do tigers eat? Tiger can eat any moving animals with meat on them. Tiger is not a picky eater. They eat whatever is available.

  • It includes all species of deer (sambar, chital (spotted-deer), sika deer, nilgai & more), leopards, gaur, boars, wild pigs, zebras, bears (grizzly or black), tapirs, horses, buffalos, rhino calves, wild dogs, wild cattle, antelopes, young elephants, moose, and goats.
  • If a large prey is not available, the tiger will settle for little mammals such as hares, rodents, frogs, snakes, birds, monkeys, fishes (depending upon location), lizards, or even termites.
  • If animals are not available, tiger would eat berries or even grass to regulate its digestive systems.

Do Tigers Eat Humans?

tiger vs. human
tiger vs. man (Painting from 1893 – Calcutta Museum – Source: Wikimedia)

Of course! They do.

  • There were many incidents in the past where these big cats pounced on humans & killed them for meat. Even these days, we hear horror stories on the news from zoos and in villages where tigers invade due to loss of habitats and in search of food.
  • In 1903, the city of Calcutta (now Kolkotta) witnessed the monster man-eater in zoo where it supposedly took more than 200 human lives.
  • Even now, the human-tiger conflict continues.

Tiger Food Chain Diagram

Tiger Food Chain Diagram
Tiger Food Chain Diagram

  • The above diagram shows that the tiger sits on the top of the food chain in the eco-system with no predators and feeds on the primary carnivores and herbivores directly.
  • The second layer represents the primary carnivores such as fox and wolfs which feed on the herbivores.
  • The third layer represents the herbivores such as deer, elks, and boars which feed on the producers – vegetations such as trees, berries, and grass.

Tiger Diet By Species

Each type of tiger has a different diet based on the geographical location where they reside in. We have tabulated each known tiger species and what do they eat in the wild below:

Diet of Siberian Tiger

Siberian Tiger Diet

Siberian tigers also referred as Amur tigers, and now they are mainly found in Primorye Province of Russia. Let’s explore what do Siberian tigers eat below.

  • Being in the cold terrain, Siberian tigers eat red deer, wild boar, Manchurian elk, and sika deer. Also, tigers attack and eat grizzly bears and black bears.
  • Amur tigers are top of the food chain in the Siberian eco-system and have no natural predators.
  • However, due to their endangered status and declining population, there is a threat of creating a significant imbalance in the eco-system where wolf population could triple in its size while deer/elk species count could decline as well to force them into endangered status.

South China Tiger Diet

South China Tiger Diet

The South China tiger is also called “Chinese Tiger” or “Amoy Tiger”, and it is considered critically endangered by the IUCN.

  • They eat serow, tufted deer, sambar deer, muntjac deer, and wild boars. South China tigers can eat anywhere between 40-80 lbs of meat at a given time. Being in top of the ecological pyramid, only humans are their predators.
  • See why tigers became endangered here.

Indochinese Tiger Diet

Indochinese Tiger Diet

Indochinese tigers are mostly found in Burma, Thailand, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia and southern China. They are enlisted as endangered by the IUCN.

  • Their main diet includes sambar deer, antelope, wild pigs, buffalos, serow, young gaur, baby rhinos, turtles, fishes and baby elephants.
  • When food is scarce, Indochinese tigers even go after porcupines, hog badgers (Arctonyx collaris), macaques monkey and muntjac deer.

Malayan Tiger Diet

Malayan Tiger Diet

Malayan tigers are found in the peninsula of Malay. In 2015, they were officially announced as critically endangered tiger species.

  • Malayan tigers’ diet includes deer species (sambar and barking), wild boar, bearded pigs, and serow. Malayan tigers also prey on sun bears (Helarctos malayanus), young elephants and rhino calves. Due to human encroachment, livestock such as domestic cattle become prey to these tigers.
  • Interestingly Malayan tigers also hunt at night times (Nocturnal) to find its prey. Being the leader of the food chain, no natural enemy other than humans.

Sumatran Tiger Diet

Sumatran Tiger Diet

In 2008, the IUCN declared that the Sumatran tigers from Sumatran islands and Indonesia as critically endangered species. What do Sumatran tigers eat?

  • Sumatran Tigers eat fishes, monkeys, crocodiles, fowl (bird), wild pigs, and deer.
  • They are patient hunters and usually stalk the prey for 1/2 hour before attacking. Sumatran tigers have an interesting habit – once the meal is over, it would cover carcass with grass using its paws for snacking the leftovers later!

Bengal Tiger Diet

Bengal Tiger Diet

Being the resident of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan, what do Bengal tigers eat?

  • Bengal tigers prefer hunting large mammals such as deer (chital, sambar, gaur, barasingha), water buffalo, nilgai/blue bull, serow (goat-like) and takin (gnu goat).
  • On the medium-sized species list, they frequently kill a wild boar, and rarely hog deer, muntjac deer and grey langur (black-faced monkeys).
  • When Bengal tigers encounter small prey species such as porcupines, hares or peafowl, they will kill them for snacks.
  • Due to humans invading their habitats, Bengal tigers also prey on domestic cattle and ends up getting killed by furious people. We hear this news from India very frequently.

The other three types of tigers namely Bali tiger, Javan tiger and Caspian tiger are extinct. Their diets were mainly large hoofed mammals.

Cite this article as: "What Do Tigers Eat? Explore Tiger Diets, Hunting & Eating Habits," in Bio Explorer, November 25, 2017, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-tigers-eat.html/.

References

  • “Tigers of the World: The Science, Politics and Conservation of Panthera tigris – Google Books”. Accessed November 25, 2017. Link.
  • “Food habits and prey selection of tiger and leopard in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, India (PDF Download Available)”. Accessed November 25, 2017. Link.
  • “Diet and prey profiles of three sympatric large carnivores in Bandipur Tiger Reserve, India – Andheria – 2007 – Journal of Zoology – Wiley Online Library”. Accessed November 25, 2017. Link.
  • “PREY SELECTION BY TIGERS (PANTHERA TIGRIS TIGRIS) IN THE KARNALI FLOODPLAIN OF BARDIA NATIONAL PARK, NEPAL” – by Jacques Grey. Accessed on November 25, 2017. PDF
  • “ADW: Panthera tigris: INFORMATION”. Accessed November 25, 2017. Link.
  • “tigerwidows.org”. Accessed November 25, 2017. Link.
  • “South China Tiger”. Accessed November 25, 2017. Link.
  • “What Do Indochinese Tigers Eat? | Animals – mom.me”. Accessed November 25, 2017. Link.
  • “Famous ‘man-eater’ at Calcutta – devoured 200 men, women and children before capture – India”. Accessed November 25, 2017. Link.
  • “Tiger | Basic Facts About Tigers | Defenders of Wildlife”. Accessed November 25, 2017. Link.
  • “Sumatran Tiger | Species | WWF”. Accessed November 25, 2017. Link.
  • “Panthera tigris ssp. jacksoni (Malayan Tiger)”. Accessed November 25, 2017. Link.
What Do Tigers Eat? Explore Tiger Diets, Hunting & Eating Habits
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