The Siberian tiger is a subspecies of tiger that lives in eastern Asia. They are one of six living subspecies of tigers, along with Bengal, Sumatran, South China, Indochinese, and Malayan tigers. The Siberian subspecies is the largest subspecies of tiger.
Like the species as a whole, the IUCN considers the Siberian tiger Endangered. However, thanks to strict conservation laws and protection, the population is no longer declining. Read on to learn about the Siberian tiger.
Description of the Siberian Tiger
Siberian tigers look much like any other subspecies of tiger. They have orange-red colored fur and black stripes across their bodies, with cream or white colored underbellies.
This subspecies is the largest of all tigers because it must be hardy to live in such frigid conditions. Most individuals are a little over 10 ft. long, and weigh about 660 lbs. or so. Compared to the other subspecies, Siberian tigers have thick, dense fur and stout bodies.
Interesting Facts About the Siberian Tiger
These massive tigers are certainly a sight to behold. They are imposing animals, and powerful predators. Learn more about why we should respect and revere these animals below.
- Unlikely Camouflage – Though it might not look like it, tiger’s stripes are actually very impressive camouflage. When looking at a tiger on a blank, white background, their stripes stand out. However, the colors and patterns in the forest are far from flat! In tall grasses or forests, tiger stripes blend perfectly in with the environment around them.
- A Cat in Danger – While they are not out of the woods yet, Siberian tigers have come a long way. In fact, in the 1930’s hunting drove the population down to just 20 or 30 tigers! Researchers conducted a study in 2005, and concluded that there were approximately 360 Siberian tigers in the population. While Siberian tigers are not out of the woods, they are on the right path.
- Threats Today – As in the past, hunting is a major threat to Siberian tigers, and all other tiger subspecies. Poaching is not nearly as prevalent as it used to be, but still occurs. After poaching, habitat loss is the next most destructive factor in their decline.
- A Remote Upside – Because these tigers live in such inhospitable regions, their habitat is actually their strongest defender. Fewer people live in areas that Siberian tigers inhabit than those of other subspecies. Because of this, there is much more undisturbed forest, and thus more prey to capture.
Habitat of the Siberian Tiger
The primary habitats of the Siberian tiger are taiga, or snow forest, birch forest, and boreal forest. They live in very harsh conditions. Winters are extremely cold, and snowfall can be very high during the winter. The vast majority of the population lives in remote mountainous regions, far from any human settlement. Much of their habitat choice also revolves around prey availability.
Distribution of the Siberian Tiger
This big cat lives in a much smaller area than it has historically roamed. Most Siberian tigers live in eastern Russia and northern China. Their population lives primarily in the Sikhote-Alin Mountain range.
Outside of their natural range, a small, controlled breeding population lives in zoos across the world. Historically, their range spread throughout more of Russia, into Korea, and through more of northern China.
Diet of the Siberian Tiger
Like the rest of the tiger subspecies, these tigers are carnivores, and eat only meat. They are skilled hunters, and travel long distances in search of prey.
Their hunting method primarily involves stealth. They get as close to their prey as possible and leap upon it to capture and kill it. These cats eat a wide variety of food, including elk, wild boar, a variety of deer species, rabbits, salmon, and more.
Siberian Tiger and Human Interaction
Of all the different subspecies, Siberian tigers interact with humans the least. Their inhospitable habitat is their best friend in this regard, as humans rarely share the same space as these cats. In fact, the vast majority of tiger attacks occur because a poacher confronts or injures the cat. In some cases, injured or starving tigers will attack humans, but this is rare.
Sadly, humans tend to come looking for trouble. Siberian tiger populations remain under threat from poaching and habitat destruction.
Most poachers kill tigers for their fur, and to sell their body parts on the black market as Traditional Chinese Medicine. Some ranchers kill these cats in retaliation for hunting livestock as well.
Humans have not domesticated any subspecies of tiger in any way.
Does the Siberian Tiger Make a Good Pet
No, Siberian tigers do not make good pets. In fact, all tigers do not make good pets! They are large dangerous animals, and should never be kept as pets.
Siberian Tiger Care
Zoos have many different regulations for the care of their tigers. The cats must live in secure enclosures with adequately tall fencing to keep them from escaping.
Zookeepers feed them commercially produced ground meat made specifically for zoo carnivores, as well as bones, rabbits, and more.
They also give the cats toys, water sources to swim in, puzzle feeders, and train them using positive reinforcement through a protective barrier. In fact, tigers can even learn to give blood voluntarily so the zookeepers can test them for illness preventatively without distressing the cat.
Behavior of the Siberian Tiger
Siberian tigers are solitary creatures, and do not tolerate one another’s company. They are extremely territorial, and their territories can be hundreds of square miles long.
The tigers mark their territories by using scent marking, frequently with urine. Most of their activity occurs at night, as they are nocturnal. During their nights, the cats patrol their territories and search for prey.
Reproduction of the Siberian Tiger
These tigers begin to breed when they are around four years old. Females use scent marking at the edges of their territories to broadcast their receptiveness to breed. Males stay with the female and they court and reproduce for about a week, after which the male leaves.
Males do not participate in the rearing of the cubs in any way. The female’s gestation period is about three or three-and-a-half months long. She usually gives birth to between two and four cubs. The cubs begin to hunt when they are a year and a half old, but they stay with their mother until they are between two and three years old.