Panthera tigris altaica
Introduction to Siberian Tiger
The largest of all cats in the world is the Siberian Tiger or Amur Tiger. They are well known for their elegant walk and their purring sound. They are often found in books, movies, and various types of folklore. This is a type of tiger that many people are familiar with the appearance of.
Siberian Tiger Description
The Siberian Tiger can grow almost 11 feet in length. The males can weigh up to 660 pounds and they are larger than the females. This subspecies of tiger has a skull that is much larger than the others. The skull of the male is quite a bit larger than that of the female. They have a coloring that is pale in the winter and get bolder with the warmer temperatures and changing seasons. Some of them have darker stripes than others based on location. These stripes can be a dark brown instead of black. The fur is thicker than other subspecies due to the cooler temperatures and it is also very coarse.
Siberian Tiger Distribution
They live in many locations, but the primary area is the birch forests of Russia. A small number of these tigers also live in North Korea and China. The climate that the Siberian Tiger lives in is harsh compared to other subspecies but there are some benefits found for them. For example, they have less issues with humans than other tigers due in various habitats. They also seem to have more of their natural home range left as it hasn’t been depleted as rapidly as in some other locations. The fact that the timber industry isn’t as widely developed in Russia as it is in other areas works in their favor.
Siberian Tiger Behavior
Like other subspecies of tigers, they are very isolated other than when they care for young or they are mating. The home range of the Siberian Tiger is quite large, and they are territorial. The males are more aggressive when it comes to protecting that environment. They will allow several females to overlap with them though. Younger males have to fight to get territory from older tigers or they have to stay on the outer ridges where it is harder to get enough food.
They have been known to attack humans, but the accounts are very limited. This could be due to the fact that they don’t live close to much human activity. Most of the time it is believed such attacks are by females protecting young or by older/injured tigers that are struggling to successfully hunt animals in the wild.
Siberian Tiger Feeding
The Amur Tiger is a very dedicated hunter, and they blend well into their surroundings. While they mainly hunt at night they have been seen out during the daylight hours to find food. They can travel a large distance in their home range to find food. They tend to look for the larger prey such as elk and wild boars. They use their powerful jaws to pounce into action after they have snuck up closely to their prey. They are able to take down animals that weigh several times more than they do.
Siberian Tiger Reproduction
Mating takes place at any time of the year for the Siberian Tiger. It generally will occur when they are about 4 years of age. The females will give off a powerful scent while in estrus. This is what attracts a male to her. After a ritual of circling and growling they will engage in mating over the course of several days. Then the male is off to find more females to mate with. The female will find a den in the days before the young arrive to keep them safe. It takes about 103 days after conception for them to be born.
The litter of cubs are blind and defensively so they need their mother to care for them. She is going to bond well with them and offer milk from her body. Yet she will have to leave them to go hunt for food to keep that supply going. They won’t come out of the den with her until they are about 8 weeks old. It will be about 6 months before they start to hunt on their own so she has a huge responsibility to them.
The young are very vulnerable out of the den when the mother has to search for food. This is why such a large number of the young are killed by various predators. Each litter can have up to 6 cubs and they will develop a hierarchy from a young age. When food is limited, the stronger and more aggressive cubs will survive.
The young will remain with their mother until they are about 18 months old. The males start to move on first and they will move a long distance from their mother. The females will linger and often create a home territory that is quite close to their mother.
Siberian Tiger Conservation Status and Threats
It is estimated that there are only 400 to 500 Siberian Tigers left in the world that live in the wild. Some of the recent studies show that these numbers have been stable and that is good news. As long as the number isn’t declining there is hope that they can increase. Efforts to preserve habitat, educate the public about these tigers, and to reduce poaching problems continue to be to conservation efforts. Poaching has long been a problem though due to the black market demand for Chinese medicine and the fur.
The status for the Siberian Tiger is endangered at this point in time. DNA samples though show that there is very little genetic diversity among them and that is a concern. One of the efforts of significant conservation is to help increase that genetic diversity. Breeding programs in captivity are a driving force behind such efforts.
Siberian Tigers are very popular at zoos, and they seem to do quite well in captivity. This is why so many zoos out there like to have them in place. It draws in crowds to their location which helps to generate money for their ongoing care.