Tigers are the largest of all the big cats, and are instantly recognisable for their orange coats and black or deep brown stripes. When most of us picture a tiger, we think of the Bengal or Amur tiger. The Bengal tiger is the most numerous species in the wild, being found in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Its stripes are thin and its coat is a yellow-orange colour. The Amur tiger is larger, with golden orange coats and stripes that are less densely spaced, since they need to blend in with the cold, snowy habitats in which they live.
But while you’ve likely heard of these two subspecies of tiger, there are several others that you may not be familiar with, each of which has unique characteristics and habitats. Here are some of the different tiger types that you might never have heard of.
The Indochinese tiger is an extremely rare and endangered species. There’s believed to be only 250 individual tigers in the wild, with breeding populations remaining only in Myanmar and Thailand. Once upon a time, Indochinese tigers could also be found in Cambodia, China, Laos and Vietnam, surrounded by tropical and subtropical forests. Their average life span is between ten to fifteen years in the wild and they can reach between 90 – 181 kg.
Malayan tigers are critically endangered too. This tiger is the national symbol of Malaysia and can be found throughout the southern and central parts of the Malay Peninsula and southern parts of Thailand. Many people have not heard of the Malayan tiger because it was only recognised as a tiger subspecies in 2004. Before that, Malayan and Indochinese tigers were believed to be the same. Malayan tigers have a reddish-orange coat and black stripes.
The Sumatran tiger is the smallest of the tiger subspecies and is only found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It has darker fur and more stripes than other tigers, as it lives in a denser forest habitat. As the rarest tiger species, there are only around 500-600 left in the wild.
Did you know that there’s a white variety of Bengal tiger? This is not a separate subspecies, but the white fur is a result of a rare genetic mutation that means the tigers have no orange pigment in their coats. There are not thought to be any white tigers left in the wild, as the mutation makes it hard for them to hunt and often results in health issues. Unfortunately, white tigers are sometimes bred in captivity by those seeking to make money from selling the cubs.
If you love tigers and are looking to enjoy ‘family theatre near me,’ don’t miss The Tiger Who Came to Tea, currently touring the UK. Packed with clumsy chaos and plenty of interactive moments, this is one of the best family theatre shows for children aged three and up, lasting just 55 minutes with no interval. Book your family theatre tickets today.