The Natural World

Top Five Tiger Facts

Top Five Tiger Facts

What’s orange, painted with black stripes and the largest species in the big cat family? That’s right, the humble tiger. But despite their iconic facade, there’s more to the tango-coloured creatures than meets the eye (of the tiger). Want to brush up your knowledge of these ferocious cats? Read on to uncover some of our favourite tiger facts, from their aquatic abilities to their temporary terrible eyesight.


  1. Talented imitators
  2. Culturally significant
  3. Blind babies
  4. Serious swimmers
  5. Captivity vs the wild


Talented imitators

Sign tigers up for the Oscars, because their acting performances are (literally) killer. These clever cats have learnt to imitate the calls of other animals, tempting them right into their jaws. Bears in India, for instance, are unfortunate enough to have overlapping habitats with tigers, and it's given them a taste for their furry friends. By mimicking the growls, huffs and barks of bears, they’ve hatched the perfect method for luring them in. Sorry bears, but we’re impressed.


Culturally significant

The Bengal tiger, often called the Indian tiger, has resided in the Indian subcontinent for at least 12,000 years. You can’t stick around in one spot for that long without being woven into cultural traditions, and the Bengal tiger has certainly left its pawprint. These big cats are found on the Pashupati seal, a 4,000-year-old artefact from the Indus Valley Civilisation. Tigers have also sunk their teeth into global literature, from the Jungle Book’s villainous Shere Khan to the slightly less menacing Tiger Who Came to Tea.


Blind babies

Tigers may be natural predators, but as cubs, they’re about as defenceless as you can get. Born without the gift of sight, they must rely on their mother’s vision for their first few weeks of life. But good things come to those who wait, because a fully-grown tiger’s nighttime vision is around six times greater than a human’s – good job we’ve invented torches. Even after gaining sight, cubs in the wild stay with their mothers for around two years – this is why captive tigers suffer in entertainment venues, where newborn cubs are separated from their mothers almost immediately after birth.


Serious swimmers

Squish the myth that all cats hate water, because tigers take to it like moths to a flame. Due to living in steaming hot Asian climates, tigers often lounge around in lakes and rivers to stay cool. What’s more, their muscular bodies and webbed paws make them capable swimmers – they're known to cross rivers as wide as 18 miles. However, these tiger facts aren’t all Mr. Tough Guy. Tigers often enter the water backwards and keep their head above the surface to avoid it getting in their eyes (or ruining their hair).


Captivity vs the wild

Due to a devastating rise in hunting, poaching and climate change, global tiger populations have dwindled in the 20th century. As of 2024, more tigers are in captivity than in the wild. This is concerning for numerous reasons, but mainly because tigers are solitary by nature – pairs are only seen during mating or when cubs have yet to venture from their mothers. In short, life in captivity is a far cry from the lives they have evolved to lead in the wild. However, India, Nepal and Bhutan have reported an increase in their wild tiger populations, a testament to their efforts in wildlife conservation.

Written by Evie Buller | Images by Aman-i-Khas.