What Is a Tiger?

tiger Credit: Cris Cantón Photography/Moment/Getty Images

Tigers are animals from Asia who represent the largest member of the feline species. Tigers have thick coats typically orange in color with black stripes, though Bengal tigers are white with black or tan stripes. No two tigers have the same coat markings. They are solitary creatures who spend the majority of time hunting for food.

Tigers are one of several endangered species. As of 2014, there were only 3,200 tigers left in the wild. Many cultures regard hunting tigers as a sign of bravery and courage, which has played a factor in their endangered status. Habitat loss is another factor.

The largest tiger is the Siberian tiger, which averages a size of 10.75 feet in length and weighs around 660 pounds. The smallest tiger is the Sumatran tiger, whose size ranges from 5 to12 feet long and whose weight ranges between 143 and 670 pounds. In each subspecies, male tigers are larger than females.

Tigers are carnivores and typically feed on large prey including amber deer, pigs, water buffalo, antelope and rhinos. Tigers kill prey by biting down on their neck and suffocating them. Though they are fierce predators, 90 percent of the time they fail at catching their prey.