written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 9/25/2009
This article offers details on Bengal tigers. It discusses what and how they eat, their lifestyle, mothers and cubs and information on the general tiger population.
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About the Species
Bengal tigers are mammals which eat a carnivorous diet. Adult Bengal tigers weigh an average of 240 to 500 pounds and bear distinctive stripes. These tigers live in India and are often referred to as Indian tigers. Bengal tigers are the most common tiger and account for almost half of the wild tiger population.
These big cats are considered endangered and there is an average of 2,500 left throughout the world. At one time there were eight tiger subspecies, but throughout the 20th century three of these subspecies became extinct. As of now all of the five remaining subspecies are considered endangered, and there are several different protection programs that are trying to keep Bengal tigers and all other tiger subspecies safe from extinction.
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Habitat, Diet & Behavior
Contrary to popular belief, most Bengal tigers try to avoid humans. There are a few that inevitably become ferocious maneaters though. The few Bengal tigers that prey on humans most likely do so because they are injured or too ill to hunt normally or they live in an area where there are many humans and very little traditional prey.
Bengal tigers will typically prey on animals such as chital, wild pigs, boars, oxen, monkeys and buffalo. These big cats are also nocturnal, which means they are active at night and will hunt at night. Bengal tigers tend to prey on animals that are small (this includes the babies of their traditional prey preferences) or old because they are slower and less likely to put up a fight because these cats are quite fast, but can only run quickly for short distances. They will travel several miles to find prey and will also stray from their marked territory for it. A tiger who is hungry can eat an average of 60 pounds in a night, but most tigers will typically eat less than this.
Bengal tigers live alone and will mark large territories in order to keep away any competition for food and to keep their young out of harms way. The average litter of tigers is two to six cubs and the mother will often raise these cubs with little to no help from the father. Bengal tiger cubs are unable to start hunting until they are eighteen months old and will stay with their mothers for about two to three years. After two to three years they will go out on their own and find their own territories.