They lurk silently behind the woods, waiting for the right time. They can see you among the trees, in the wetlands when there is no light. They hunt, kill, and devour their prey in the mangroves of Bengal– deadly beasts of the wild.
A Bengal Tiger signifies power, status, and superiority over other animals. But most of all, it asserts danger and dominance wherever it goes.
We have read about them as kids. We have seen them on television. And we have even heard numerous stories about them from our parents. But when it comes to knowing the tigers, most of us fall short of information.
Bengal tigers, binomially Panthera Tigris Tigris, are one of the six tiger subspecies that exist today. Although these tigers have Bengal in their name, they also exist in regions outside Bengal. These striped predators are the most valued animals in various countries, including India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
We all know the infamous Shere Khan from The Jungle Book. But did you know that this fictional tiger is indeed a Bengal tiger? Well, there are many such things about the Bengal Tigers that we must know about. Explore these 10 Bengal Tiger facts with us to deepen your knowledge about these mighty felines.
Bengal tigers are among THE largest wild cats.
Tigers are the largest cats. And among tigers, Bengal tigers comprise the second-largest subspecies after the Siberian tigers. But many of the Bengal tigers can grow as big as their Siberian relatives.
The largest males can have a size of about 3.2 meters (or 10.5 feet), including a one-meter-long tail. And they can weigh up to 650 pounds. The largest females grow up to 2.7 meters (9 feet) and weigh about 400 pounds.
However, not all Bengal tigers grow as large. The average length of an adult male Bengal tiger ranges between 2.8 and 3.1 meters. And an average adult Bengal tigress usually grows up to 2.55-2.85 meters. Still, the species is the largest among the feline members. They are much larger than most lions, jaguars, and other big cats.
The earliest Bengal tigers arrived from Sri Lanka, not Bengal
The name “Bengal Tiger” comes from the fact that these tigers predominantly inhabit the mangroves of Bengal (India and Bangladesh). But the earliest fossils of this subspecies are from Sri Lanka and date to about 16,500 years ago.
These ancient tigers spread across the entire Sri Lankan landmass and arrived in southern India about 12,000 years ago.
In the present day, the Bengal tigers live across the countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and China. But most of these tigers live in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans. These forests are spread across eastern India and western Bangladesh.
Bengal tigers are highly adaptable.
The Bengal tigers love the swamps and deltaic regions of the Sundarbans. In fact, they are the only breed of tigers that inhabit mangrove forests. And the majority of them are found in and around this region.
But these tigers are highly adaptable. More adaptable than many other animals.
The typical habitats of Bengal tigers in India are tropical, subtropical, and deciduous forests with corresponding temperatures. But they also live in Bhutan at over 13,000 feet above sea level! If you are unaware, the temperature at such heights can drop to as low as -9 degrees!
Their great adaptability is just another one of the astonishing Bengal tiger facts! They can live in a variety of habitats, such as forests, mangroves, wetlands, and grasslands. Not many animals have such a diversified range of habitats.
They have one of the strongest bites!
The bite force of an adult Bengal Tiger is about 1050 pounds per square inch (psi). This is a sufficiently strong bite force for an animal weighing 500-600 pounds.
The strong bite force of these tigers makes them just as dangerous as they seem. And to complement their strong bite force are their exceptionally long and sharp canines. In fact, these tigers have the longest canine teeth of all wild cats. The canines can grow as long as 10 cm (nearly 4 inches).
The long set of canines, along with the tremendous bite force and the strong jaws, help the tigers kill their prey in no time.
They can become ruthless man-hunters.
Like many other predators, Bengal tigers usually tend to avoid humans. They remain limited to their habitat and mostly find food in smaller animals like deer, gaurs, and even buffalos. But in some situations, they can deliberately hunt humans as prey.
Humans who live in the vicinity of the habitat of these large beasts have suffered multiple times in the past. The story of the Champawat Tiger is the best example of tigers turning into man-hunters.
In the early 20th century, a Bengal tigress instilled terror among villagers of Nepal and India. She hunted humans instead of her natural prey. She had killed about 436 people in her lifetime– a world record. After the famous hunter Jim Corbett finally killed her in Champawat, an autopsy of the tigress revealed an interesting fact.
Two of her canines were broken, so the tigress could not hunt her normal prey. And therefore, she turned to humans for her survival. That’s a horrific story, indeed.
Similar incidents can turn tigers into man-eaters, such as habitat destruction or lack of natural prey.
Bengal Tigers are incredibly powerful for their size!
We don’t need to tell you how powerful Bengal tigers are. But let’s get an idea of the strength these iconic feline beasts possess.
They can make incredibly long jumps– more than 20 feet– to pounce on their prey. Their long teeth, strong bite, and retractable jaws ensure that they kill their prey efficiently after catching them. Even their tongues have evolved to help them lick their food properly. The tongues have spikey structures called papillae to lick the meat of their kills.
Bengal tigers are incredibly powerful for their size. They can attack and kill animals much larger than them. They can run 40 miles in an hour and even kill and drag a bison that weighs over a ton. If you think that’s too much for a single tiger, think again. They can eat about 40 kilograms of meat in one ago, and they eat very fast.
They live a solitary life.
Like most cats, Bengal tigers also lead a solitary life. Unlike lions, they are not very social and do not live in pride. They also hunt on their own.
An exception to the solitary nature of tigers is a tigress with small cubs. Female tigers maintain a territory and satisfy their needs well within this territory. They usually mark their territories with urine or scratching tree trunks. Their territorial range depends on the availability of prey, water, and shelter for themselves and their cubs.
Male tigers occupy a larger territory containing the territories of several tigresses. They do this to ensure they can mate with the females when the time comes.
Although Bengal tigers can mate throughout the year, the frequency peaks during winter. During this time, the males and females live together. And unlike lions, who eat before their female partners, male tigers eat the last. Females and cubs usually get the first eating right on the prey. Quite a gentle trait, isn’t it?
They attack by ambush.
Bengal tigers are quite strong; there is no doubt about that. However, another one of Bengal tiger facts is that when it comes to hunting down their prey, they prefer attacking from behind.
Since the tigers hunt alone, chasing down prey is not viable and effective. Therefore, they stalk their prey stealthily; they are exceptionally good at it in spite of their size. They hide in ambush and slowly stride toward their prey until they are sufficiently close. Once they get the opportunity, they leap forward and grab the neck of their prey to bring it down.
They usually hunt at night; their night vision is six times better than ours. But that doesn’t mean they can’t hunt during the day. The Champawat Tiger, for instance, used to hunt many of its victims– mainly girls and kids– in broad daylight.
As the tigers attack from behind, people living near tiger-inhabited areas wear masks behind their heads to deceive the tigers. This is because tigers usually avoid attacking people who look directly at them.
Bengal tigers love water.
After reading all of the above facts about tigers, you might think that tigers are all serious and no fun. But this assumption is far from reality! Why should humans have all the fun? The tigers have it, too. And they love having fun in the water.
They are great swimmers and love playing in the water. Being swimmers, they know how to kill their prey in the water as well. But they like to enjoy their time in the swamps and lakes. The mother tigress teaches her cubs to swim, and the little ones love having a great time in the water.
They can even swim long distances to travel to new places. One of these tigers once swam over 18 miles in a day!
Their saliva is antiseptic!
What do you do when you get a cut or a wound on your body? Apply an antiseptic cream or lotion, right? But Bengal Tigers, like other tigers, lick their wounds. But they don’t do that just out of habit.
Here’s another one of fascinating Bengal Tiger facts -Their saliva has antiseptic properties!
It contains the enzyme lysozyme, which helps prevent the spread of infection by attacking the cell walls of the wounds. That’s why you would often see a tiger licking a wounded region.
Well, this is not an unfair advantage, provided the fact that these beasts often run the risk of getting infected due to natural wounds or encounters with other animals.
With this, we’re ready to wrap up our Bengal Tiger facts blog. These majestic wild cats have amazed and terrified us in stories, movies, and even the cartoons we watched as children. But the Bengal tigres have many interesting features and behaviors that most of us are completely unaware of!
Unfortunately, these ferocious beasts are suffering from an acute shortage of habitat. Around 4,000 Bengal Tigers are alive today. But most of them live in areas that are insufficient for more than 250 individuals.
The big cats also face the threat of poaching. Tiger skins and other body parts are smuggled to different parts of the world. In China, tiger bones are in demand for producing traditional Chinese medicines. Moreover, the expansion of human settlement leads to greater human-tiger conflicts.
Tigers face several threats in the modern world. And the current conservation efforts do not seem as efficient as they should be. However, we can play a small part by being aware and spreading this awareness among others.
If you enjoyed uncovering these Bengal tiger facts with us, there’s another fascinating facts blog about Lion-tailed Macaque on our website that you might want to read. Check it out here!