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ANIMAL
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Amur tiger habitat: Forests and bush-covered mountains in summer; moves to lower altitudes in the winter. It lives in extremely high altitudes. read more >

Amur tiger

Scientific name: Panthera tigris altaica


CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Carniova
FAMILY: Felidae

FEEDING TIME: Carnivore
STATISTICS: Weight: 370 to 600 lbs.; Length: 6.5 to 11 ft.

DESCRIPTION:
The Amur tiger is the largest of the tiger subspecies. The coat of the Amur tiger is the palest orange of all the tigers and has the fewest stripes. There is a white spot on the back of the ears that serves as a false eye spot. It has a scruff of fur, around its neck that is more developed than in other tiger subspecies, which helps protect it from the cold environment in which it lives.

RANGE:
Eastern Russia, northeastern China, northern regions of North Korea

HABITAT:
Forests and bush-covered mountains in summer; moves to lower altitudes in the winter. It lives in extremely high altitudes.

ADAPTATIONS:
The Amur tiger lives in a harsh environment where extremely cold temperatures and deep snow are common. Because of its large size, it can retain heat much better than the other tiger subspecies. On the flanks and belly, the Amur tiger has an extra layer of fat that protects it from the elements. The fur is thick and long, especially during the colder months, which keeps the tiger warmer.

The Amur tiger will travel great distances for food. It is not a great runner, so it will not run very far to chase its prey. Smaller animals are killed with a bite to the neck that severs the spinal cord. Larger animals are killed through suffocation with a bite to the throat.

The Amur tiger generally lives alone, except when the female is with young. A male will take in a large territory where there are multiple females. Although it is solitary, it does keep in contact with other tigers through scent marking. The scents leave useful information for other tigers regarding the status of the one leaving the marking. Another way the Amur tiger communicates is through scrapes in the ground, claw marks, and feces. It will also communicate through different kinds of vocalizations that communicate its particular status, such as the particular female roar when it is ready to mate. Each tiger has a unique pattern of stripes, which acts as an identifier for other tigers.

REPRODUCTION/GROWTH:
Females show they are ready to mate by spraying a fragrant musk or “marking fluid.” The males will seek those females to mate. If other males seek the same female, a battle may take place.

While courting, the female will roll on the ground, spit, and strike the male with her paws before mating. The male must wait patiently until she is ready.

The gestation period is about three to 3.5 months. The mom-to-be will choose a sheltered spot such as a cave or a depression in thick grass. Usually, a litter consists of about three cubs. They normally weigh about three pounds at birth.

After about two months of staying close to the mother, the cubs will begin to follow her on hunting trips. The youngsters mimic their mother in hunting, thus enabling them to be ready to hunt on their own. By the time a cub is 1.5 to two years old, it is ready to be independent.

The female is ready to breed by the time she is three years old. The male is ready at about the same age or a year later.

PREY/PREDATOR:
Predator to wild boar, elk, roe deer, birds, fish, mice, brown bear
Prey to Man

STATUS:
Listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN due to habitat destruction, big game hunting, and poaching and is considered CITES Appendix 1.

SPECIAL NOTES:

  • Only 350-400 Amur tigers survive in the wild. Once known as the Siberian tiger because of where it lived, it is now referred to as the Amur, named after the Amur River in Russia where many of these tigers now live.
     
  • Logging is presenting the biggest threat to this tiger. Poaching is also a big threat as the tiger’s meat, skin, and bones are used for medicines. Many countries have passed laws to stop the sale of products made from tiger parts. Wild tiger habitats exist because of international projects and dedicated people working in the tiger’s native countries.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. IUCN.  November 2009
  2. National Geographic.  November 2008.
  3. World Wildlife Fund.  November 2008.
  4. Nowak, Ronald M. Walker’s Mammals of the World, 5th edition, Volume 11. John Hopkins University Press. Baltimore and London.1991
     

Published: February 2009

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