Examples of tiger adaptations include a striped, orange skin for camouflage, a powerful jaw, a keen sense of hearing and powerful vision. All these things make the tiger a formidable apex predator.
The tiger, and all its species, are endangered despite not having any natural enemies in the wild. Humans have encroached on their territory, and it is the reason they have a dwindling habitat. Before the tiger goes extinct, it is wise to understand what makes them powerful animals—so unique that humans must do everything to conserve them.
1. Skin Camouflage
The tiger’s skin is orange, and many people think that this color makes them easy to spot. Well, humans can easily spot them, but animals cannot. The striped, orange skin is the very thing that makes tigers hard to see when they hide behind the bushes.
The tiger’s stripes make it look like grass, and an animal would be unable to make the difference for as long as the tiger keeps still. The orange color, however, allows the tiger to blend with the green surroundings.
Many animals, like dogs and cats, especially tiger prey, have dichromatic vision. They only see two colors, which are blue and green. As such, they do not see orange color as humans do. Instead, they see green when they cast their eyes on a tiger’s skin, making the tiger difficult to see.
2. Keen Sense of Hearing
Tigers have an acute sense of hearing, and it is what makes them good at hunting prey. They can rotate their ears and focus, similar to a radar dish. Their ears allow them to hear where sounds are coming from and identify if this sound is coming from prey.
As a cat, the tiger can is sensitive to high-pitched sounds. The tiger can hear up to 60 kHz, while humans can only hear up to 20 kHz. This ability to hear this acutely is what makes a tiger pinpoint the location of prey and how the prey is moving.
3. Large Throats
Tigers evolved to have large throats, and this allows them to eat big chunks of meat. When they feed, they can do so quickly. They can expand their throats, when necessary, to the extent that they can swallow some prey whole.
While tigers do not swallow prey as snakes do, they need to eat quickly. All predators have to do this, or the meat would go bad quickly. Tigers can also get into a fight with other predators like boas and crocodiles.
4. Night Vision
Tigers are mostly nocturnal, so they must have clear vision at night. Like other cats, tigers can see clearly at night, and it is what makes them good at hunting in the dark.
Tigers have a structure called tapetum lucidum, which is a mirrorlike thing at the back of the retina. This structure reflects light and produces a brighter image. The same structure is what makes cats’ eyes glow in the dark when strong light directly hits the eyes.
5. Stealth Technique
Tigers, despite being apex predators, have some shortcomings. As such, they must hunt with stealth and strategy to succeed. Tigers can walk on grass and dried leaves without making a sound until they are close enough to pounce on their target.
Tigers hide in plain sight. They must do this because they cannot run as fast as cheetahs. They are also heavier than a lion, which means they can easily get tired of chasing prey. Because of these potential problems, they developed a stealthy hunting technique that increases their likelihood of hunting success.
6. Good Swimmers
Tigers adapted by developing webbed paws. As such, they are good swimmers and would also hunt for food in the water. Since they can hunt on both land and water, they have better chances of survival.
Tigers can swim up to 29 kilometers to cross rivers. They can swim to avoid detection and humans and to move from one territory to another, therefore increasing their span of hunting ground.
7. Heavyweight Cats
Tigers are heavier than lions. It might sound like a disadvantage, but it isn’t. A tiger evolved to be heavy as itsweight gives it more raw power and more energy. It is why a tiger can single-handedly bring down an elephant calf.
The largest tiger can weigh up to 660 pounds. The advantage of this is simple: once a tiger manages to go on top of its prey, the prey has no chance of pushing the tiger away. While the tiger bites at the prey’s throat, the prey does not stand any chance of success getting out of that bite and pushing the tiger away.
8. Antiseptic Saliva
The saliva of a tiger has antiseptic properties, which means that it can help the tiger disinfect its body. The saliva has lysozyme enzymes, and these enzymes protect the tiger from infection if it has wounds.
Tigers, like many cats, lick themselves from time to time. Tigers, however, do this to disinfect their wounds and clean their coat.
One less-known fact about tigers is that they can imitate the sound of other animals. And when they do, they can draw this prey closer to them.
Tigers can mimic the sound of a sambhar deer. As this deer gets closer, the tiger lies in wait and ultimately jumps on the poor deer. This trap and ambush style is not uncommon in the animal kingdom, but the tiger is the only cat that does this.
10. Jaw and Paw Power
The last adaptation of the tiger is its paw and jaw power. A tiger’s bite can deliver a force of 1,050 PSI. It is enough to crush the throat of prey. The tiger’s bite force is twice that of a lion.
Its paws, on the other hand, are much more powerful. Estimates suggest that the paw strike of a tiger has 10,000 pounds of force. It is not surprising, considering that a tiger’s paw can reach an area of eight inches by eight inches. A single swipe of this paw is enough to incapacitate prey.
Tigers are one of the best examples of how evolution works and how evolution benefits a species. The Tigers deserve a chance. Although they are not as fast as cheetahs or as strong as lions, tigers are in a league of their own. Sadly, only about 4,500 tigers are found in the wild today. Although conservation efforts are in progress, people need to do more.
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