Diet and Eating Habits
1. A tiger's favorite prey is deer and wild boar. Deer species may include sambar,
chital, sika deer, swamp deer, and hog deer, among others. Depending on the habitat,
tigers may also eat antelope, buffalo, guar, domestic livestock, peafowl, monkeys, civets, porcupines, fish, frogs, crabs, large monitor lizards,
pythons, and young elephants or rhinos. Grass, fruits, and berries are also eaten. (2)
2. Prey living in dense, forested areas (where tigers are found) tend to be more scattered in distribution. Because of this, tigers will attack most any animal that places itself in a vulnerable position. Tigers kill animals of all ages and physical conditions, including animals in their prime. (6)
1. Tigers are solitary hunters and actively search for prey using their eyesight and
hearing. They depend on concealment and a stalk and ambush approach to capture prey.
a. When prey is located, the tiger begins its stalk. It approaches the prey from the
side or rear, in a semi-crouch or crouch position. Remaining concealed, quiet, and
cautious, the tiger attempts to get within 20 m (66 ft.) of its victim. (8)
b. Once the tiger is close enough, it suddenly rushes the prey. Using
its powerful forelimbs and sharp claws, the tiger seizes the prey by the shoulder, back,
or neck, and forces it to the ground. Unless the prey is quite large, tigers usually keep
their hind feet on the ground. (1,8)
c. During or after the attack, the tiger administers a lethal bite to the nape (back)
of the neck or the throat of its victim. (6)
(1) When prey weighs more than half as much as the tiger, the tiger will usually bite
the throat, causing suffocation.
(2) When prey is smaller, the tiger commonly bites the nape of the neck, damaging the
(3) Tigers mainly attack prey weighing 50 to 200 kg (110-441 lb.), but regularly take animals weighing up to 400 kg (882 lb.). (6,8)
1. Though some tigers do kill people, they're not necessarily man-eaters. Most tigers
try to avoid people, but may attack if taken by surprise, or if defending their young. If
tigers do attack people, they rarely eat them.
2. Certain factors may cause tigers to become man-eaters. (2,5)
a. A tiger may be desperate for food because it's old or injured. Humans are relatively
b. Tigers living in habitats where native prey is scarce may be forced to hunt humans
for food. Likewise, a mother tiger with cubs may hunt humans to provide enough food for
her young. Consequently, the young tigers learn that humans are prey.
c. As tiger habitats become smaller and more isolated, tigers and people come in
contact with each other more often. Tigers may venture onto surrounding agricultural lands
to hunt or find dens for their cubs. A chance attack on humans may become routine behavior
for some tigers. Fortunately, not all tigers that attack humans become habitual
d. Some tigers may learn to associate humans with food if they've had the opportunity to scavenge human corpses.
©2002 Busch Entertainment Corporation.