The Bengal tiger, or Panthera tigris tigris, is a species that originated in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. This particular species of tiger is currently endangered, as there are only a few thousand left worldwide. It has a distinctive coat pattern of orange and black stripes that fade to a white underbelly. Bengal tigers have been going extinct due to excessive poaching and habitat losses.
Indian tigers are big animals. The males weigh more than 400 pounds (about 181 kg), while the females weigh in at about 300 pounds (136 kg). Northern Bengal tigers, however, tend to be even larger — more than 500 pounds (about 227 kg) in some cases. A typical Bengal tiger diet includes large animals such as sambar — a type of large deer — and wild boar.
Since their natural habitat is slowly being taken over by humans, tigers also will attack farm animals for food. Going for the throat is how tigers typically attack their prey. Once the prey is caught, a full-grown tiger can eat up to 80 pounds (about 36 kg) of raw meat in one sitting.
Tigers, especially Royal Bengal tigers, are not as social as lions. They do not live in family groups, or prides, since the males do not help the females raise offspring. Male tigers are territorial, and they will mark leaves and trees with urine to warn away other males and to attract females. The male tigers are also much more aggressive than the females.
A male Bengal tiger is not considered full-grown until the age of four or five. Females mature about a year earlier. At this time, tigers will mate between the coldest months. Females remain pregnant for about 106 days and give birth to litters of one to four cubs. The babies only weigh about 2 pounds (0.9 kg) each when they are born.
Suckling lasts for a few months, then the cubs begin to eat the same foods as the mother. Mother tigers teach their cubs how to hunt and survive. At just a few months old, they learn to help their mothers take down prey. Cubs live with their mothers until they reach the age of 18 months, when they wander away to look for mates of their own.
A male Bengal tiger walks further away from his mother and siblings to establish his own territory. Females tend to stay closer to their birthplaces. Once a mother tiger's cubs have all left, she tends to go into heat again to bear another litter, and the cycle continues.