8 Bengal Tiger Adaptations – Let’s know how the Royal Bengal Tiger adapts to the forest environment

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The Bengal Tigre is also known as the Royal Bengal Tiger, and it is the second-largest tiger species in the world, just after the Siberian (Amur) Tiger.

It is native to the Indian subcontinent that includes countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. And, its scientific name is Panthera tigiris tigiris.

This Royal Bengal Tiger is the pride of India and in fact, it is the National animal of India all due to its combination of great elegance, strength, smooth agility, and enormous power.

But, at present, this animal is considered under the Endangered species category in the ICUN Red List of Threatened Species.

Meaning that they are very likely to get extinct in the near future due to their decreasing population. Its because it is threatened by poaching, loss, and fragmentation of habitat.

At present, the Bengal Tiger population is estimated to be somewhere around 3,200 to 4,000 as compared to the population of 12,500 that was in the year 1990.

Here, in this post, we will learn how the Bengal Tiger (listed as the 2nd largest big cat in the world) has adapted itself to having a great combination of elegance, strength, smooth agility, and enormous power in order to survive in the wild.

So, Let’s Get Started…

A tigress satisfying her thirst at a waterhole in Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India
(Image: Sagar Paranjape/Unsplash)

How does the Bengal tiger adapt to the forest environment? Here’s the list of 7 Bengal Tiger adaptations that help it survive in the wild so well

1. They can camouflage due to their striped coat appearance

Tigers have beautiful brown and black coated body fur. Their body fur is comprised of various beautiful black-colored stripes on a background of dark brown to light brown fur.

Their soft belly portion and most of their white-colored ventral body part is covered with black colored stripes in the background of white or cream-colored body fur.

This is their type of body adaptation that helps them to stay concealed well enough to hunt successfully.

Their striped appearance has evolved them so far in order to disguise them in their surroundings, thus allowing them to hide and remain undetected.

Their striped body fur appearance matches with their surroundings so well because their striped body looks the same as the sunlight falling from the treetops to the jungle floor, making them blend with their surroundings.

Thus due to their ability to blend with their surroundings appearing the same as the sunlight falling through the leaves to the jungle ground, the tiger is perfectly able to conceal itself and so it is able to camouflage so well.

So, their ability to camouflage gives their hunting abilities a big boost so that their prey can’t notice them while they are waiting for a kill.

2. They are ambush predators

Tigers are ambush predators. Being an ambush predator means that they have a good ability to sit-and-wait by well-hiding in their surroundings so that they can’t get caught by their prey.

Their ability to camouflage as mentioned in Point No. 1 above helps them to perfectly conceal themselves by luring their prey and making their prey think that there’s not a predator but a thick forest cover before them.

They being ambush predators use various typical instinctive strategies utilizing an element of surprise attacking and killing of their prey.

They as ambush predators are known to hide well amidst the thick grassed and forests coverings, sit-and-wait, and quitely move and sneak up on their prey.

And, as the prey approaches nearer they are known to give a very rapid surprise attack using their sharp claws and powerful jaws to instantly kill the prey.

If the prey tries to run away, then they can also run in short bursts of speed after the prey in order to take it down and grab it to make the kill.

Being an ambush predator, the Bengal tiger is actually a very patient animal and waits until the right moment to capture its prey.

3. They have a massive body weight and size

Bengal Tigers are the second largest and heaviest big cats on earth. It’s due to their massive body length and weight.

The average weight of male Bengal tigers can be around 320 kgs. They can reach about 320 cm in body length from head to tail.

Their body length can be around 212 cm and their tail length can be around 106 cm. This total makes their body length equal to somewhere around 320 cm.

Female tigers have a slightly lower body weight as compared to male tigers. The average weight of female Bengal tigers can be around 170 kgs.

Along with being incredibly heavyweight, they are really very strong and so are perfectly able to pull and drag the prey that is about two to three heavier than them for almost about 1 to 2 km.

They are known to drag their prey weighing about 700 to 900 kgs easily for about 1 to 2 km without much difficulty. And that, they can carry a weight of about 400 kgs climbing up the trees.

The heaviest Bengal Tiger ever reported was 389.5 kgs and measured 323 cm in total length between pegs, and 338 cm over curves. It was reported in the year 1967.

4. Their sense of hearing is really very incredible

Yes, Bengal Tigers have a great sense of hearing. Using their sense of hearing they are finely able to communicate and listen through infrasound (sound waves below a frequency of 20 Hz) which is actually inaudible to most other species.

It is also to be noted here that infrasound is a low-frequency sound that is below 20Hz of the sound frequency range.

So, only those animals that have very sensitive hearing capability can hear infrasound and communicate through it. One such animal is the Tiger.

So, this adaptation has given the tiger the ability to listen to the minute sounds made by the prey and so helps it to better detect its kill. Tigers have extremely good ears and thus they are known as infrasonic animals.

They do also make vocal infrasound to communicate with other tigers and find mates. This makes it possible for them to have some quiet secret communications regarding matters of survival, warnings, hunting, finding mates, territorial protection, etc.

Infrasound is likely to be affected by climatic conditions such as humidity, rain, etc. and so are easily detected by tigers from a distance of 7 to 8 km very easily.

All thanks to the tigers’ inner ear physiology and anatomy that makes their sense of hearing so incredible to be able to use infrasound to hear and communicate so well.

5. They can easily and clearly see at night time, and so they are nocturnal creatures

Yes, just like all other big cats, tigers are also nocturnal. So, they can be seen being more active at night, dawn, or dusk time, than being during the daytime.

They do prefer areas where there’s good availability of prey at nighttime or during the dawn or dusk time of the day.

They can see clearly in the dark because they have more rod cells than the cone cells in the retina of their eyes.

Tigers can see colors but, they can’t see and differentiate as many colors as a human eye probably can.

Their vision is a bit faded as compared to that of humans. At night, though, their vision is about six times better than that of humans.

As Tigers see fewer colors so, they don’t have a very clear vision, although they can better detect what they are looking at.

They are also nearsighted which means they can’t see very very far objects. Their ability to see close objects would be well-suited for hunting and capturing prey as ambush predators.

However, this doesn’t mean that Tigers are strictly nocturnal. They have been also seen hunting and roaming around during the daytime.

Although their most favorite timing is the nighttime to hunt and feed. Having a very good night vision, they often come out to hunt at night.

However, based on the availability of prey and depending on the surrounding environment they can also be seen hunting during the daytime. This gradually happens near human settlement areas.

6. They have powerful jaws, retractable claws, very powerful muscles, and felexible skeletal system

Tigers have really very powerful jaws with 30 teeth in total in adults, with 16 teeth in the top jaw and only 14 in the lower jaw.

Tiger’s jaw contains Canines, Incisors, and Molar teeth.

The canines help the tiger to penetrate deep into the body of the prey and hold it. The incisors help to grip the prey and tear off meat from the bones. The molar teeth help to crush the food particles into fine swallowable pieces.

Their powerful jaws can cause a bite force of about 1,050 psi which is two times more powerful than an adult male lion, thus leading to the faster killing of their prey.

The strength of the tiger’s bite is due to the arrangement of its jaw muscles that are attached to the sagittal crest ridge bone portion present at top of its skull.

Tigers also have the largest canines (two fangs on each side of the upper and lower jaw) of all big cat species. Their canine size ranges from 6.4 to 7.6 cm in length.

The powerful hind limb muscles and with long bones of the tiger help it to make a jump forward distances up to 10 meters with ease.

The muscles and bones of the tiger’s front legs are strong and dense to support the large musculature needed to take down large prey.

They have strong, flexible muscles that make their bodies streamlined for catching their prey with a sudden rapid attack. They also have a very flexible spine, making them very athletic in nature.

Their large neck muscles have adapted so well that they can absorb any severe shock when they crash into their prey in order to grab a hold of it.

Evolution to date has shaped and has adapted the tiger to be an agile, powerful, athletic, and flexible fighting predator so that it can contribute to quick bursts of speed whenever needed to do so.

7. Their way of raising cubs and protecting them brings a good rate of survival of the cubs

The tigress will give birth to the cubs and will rear the cubs all by herself. Most caring and nursing of the cubs can be credited to the mother.

However, father tigers can also help the mother in raising the cubs if he is still inside his territory.

Tiger cubs are born blind, and they totally depend on their mother’s milk till they reach the age of 6 months.

As the cubs are unable to defend themselves, so they are easy prey and so are very much vulnerable to getting attacked by other large animals like foxes, wild dogs, eagles, snakes, and other male tigers as well.

So, yes tigers are very protective and overdefensive for the cubs. The mother will girth birth and raise her cubs in a spot that’s secluded and covered from potential attackers.

The participation of the mother tiger in caring for and defending the cubs is the most (about 95%) as compared to the father.

Mothers usually give birth at protective places like caves, dens, dense grass-covered locations, crevices, or even in the hollow of a large tree.

She will always keep her cubs hidden from other tigers for around 6 months at least until they are old enough to feed on prey brought by their mother.

Also Read: Do Male Tigers Help Raise Cubs? Why Do Tigers Kill Cubs? And More Things To Know

8. They are solitary living with great learning approach towards their environment

Individual tigers live alone in the wild, except for the mother who lives with their cubs until the cubs are around 2 years of age.

Individuals stay solitary all by themselves, and only come to stay together as couples when they are ready to mate and have cubs.

When the cubs stay with their mother they learn a lot of hunting and survival skills by watching their mother each and every time. They do this so well that we can say that they have a great learning approach towards their environment.

Mother tries to hide them very often when they are small and vulnerable. Watching this, they do also learn their instinctive behavior to hide easily from harm and protect themselves from danger.

Tiger cubs as they grow they do learn to swim and climb trees, along with various other life skills like stalking, pouncing, and even swatting.


Other Notable Adaptations & Facts About The Royal Bengal Tiger

1. Do You Know? The Royal Bengal Tigers have unique combinations and stripe patterns. Just like in humans no two individuals can have the same fingerprint, in the same way, no two tigers will have the same stripe patterns. And so, no two tigers will appear to be the same.

2. They can also roar by producing infrasound (inaudible to humans) in order to communicate and call out other tigers which are at a distance. And yes, they can also produce audible sounds that can also be heard by humans.

3. Male tigers do care for their offspring. This can be well seen when the father allows the mother and the cubs to feed before him. Rare instances of a father caring for the cubs have also been seen if the mother is not present at the moment.

4. Do You Know? The Royal Bengal Tiger is the only tiger species in the world that has well-adapted itself to inhabit the large mangrove forests and swamps. They have well adapted themselves to be able to swim and cross rivers for territorial expansion, guarding, hunting in water, and mating purposes as well.

5. They are often seen making their shelter near to the water bodies where they can swim. Their territories will have long trees on which it can climb up to spectate its prey and any invading animal.

6. With the help of their sharp and retractable claws and powerful limb muscles they can very easily have a powerful grip to hold the tree trunk and climb up comfortably. They can also pull weight that is two times heavier than them up the tree to feast on.

7. They prefer preying on large-bodied animals like moose, deer, elk, pigs, cows, horses, buffalos, elephant cubs, rhinoceros calves, wild dogs, goats, livestock in order to fulfill their dietary needs. They have been also known for feeding upon venomous snakes, fishes, water birds, crocodiles, bird eggs, etc.

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