The tiger, P. tigris, with its strong legs and claws, is an able hunter but needs sufficient cover to attack fleet prey before they have time to escape. The tiger hunts by sight and hearing rather than smell. (Grolier Interactive Inc.)

The tiger, Panthera tigris, is the largest and most powerful of the cat family, Felidae. Tigers prefer forests but are adaptable and range from the cold wastelands of Manchuria and Siberia to the thornbush of India and the hot bamboo jungles and rain forests of Malaysia. They were once found throughout southern Asia, but hunting and forest clearing have restricted their range and limited their numbers. Several subspecies, such as the Siberian and the Sumatran tigers, are extinct or near extinction in the wild. The male tiger may stand 1 m (40 in) at the shoulder, have a head and body length of 2.7 m (9 ft) and a tail of about 90 cm (3 ft), and weigh from 180 to 270 kg (about 400 to 600 lb). Females are smaller. The upper coat is usually reddish yellow to tawny, marked with blackish stripes; the underparts are whitish.

Tigers typically come out at night to stalk prey. They prefer large prey, bringing it down with their claws after a brief fast rush, but they also eat small animals. The males are usually solitary hunters. From 1 to 6 but usually 2 or 3 helpless cubs, weighing only about 1.3 to 1.8 kg (3 to 4 lb), are born after a gestation period of 98 to 109 days. They become independent at about 2 to 3 years. The average life span is 15 years.
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