Unravelling the Tiger’s Camouflage Techniques

Strong, powerful, bold and stunning to look at, it’s easy to see why tigers appear in all kinds of movies, stories, songs, poems and fun-filled children’s shows. They really are majestic, somewhat fearsome creatures. But did you know that their distinctive markings actually help them to survive in the wild? Tigers have cleverly adapted to their environments in the most incredible of ways. So let’s check out some of the tiger’s camouflage techniques.


Why Do Tigers Have Stripes?

Tigers have stripes for a reason. Their very beautiful and very unique coat helps them blend in well when the sunlight filters through the treetops to the jungle floor. This makes them much harder to spot and helps keep them safe from hunters and other predators. Stripes also blend in with long wisps of grass allowing tigers to stalk their prey without being seen.


Tiger stripes also vary among the six tiger subspecies, depending on where they live. Sumatran tigers, for instance, have the narrowest black stripes of any tiger subspecies. This is because they’re ambush predators and need to blend in amongst the thick vegetation of the Indonesian jungle. The Sumatran tiger also has much darker fur than other subspecies for similar reasons. In contrast, the Siberian tiger has adapted to its snowier habitat by developing fur much paler than that of other tiger subspecies. The Siberian tiger’s stripes are also brown and widely spread out to make them less noticeable when prowling across snow-covered land.


Tiger stripes also help to break up the body shape of the animal helping them to go undetected when hunting. Unsuspecting prey find it much easier to focus on a block object or an object of one colour, so tigers move through the vegetation like secret agents before pouncing. 


Why Are Tigers So Brightly Coloured?

Tiger stripes make sense in terms of the sunlight coming through the trees. But don’t brightly coloured cats actually stand out in a predominantly green forest? Researchers from the University of Bristol have recently published a study explaining why this is not the case. Tigers love to eat deer, boar and similar creatures. Like most mammals, these are dichromats, meaning they have just two types of functioning colour receptors in the eye. As such they are red-green blind. They find it really hard to distinguish between green tones and red-orange tones, meaning that to them, tigers match the surrounding forest pretty well. Now that’s some pretty incredible evolution.


What About White Tigers?

A genetic mutation in Bengal tigers can lead to milky white fur and black stripes. While this colour contrast is rare and beautiful it’s no good for survival, which helps to explain why no white tigers now exist in the wild. As both parents need to carry the same rare gene to produce white cubs, white tigers are only found in captivity. 


If you and your little ones love tigers, don’t miss The Tiger Who Came to Tea, showing in London this summer. It’s one of the best theatre shows for families, packed with plenty of clumsy chaos, singalong songs and interactive moments. So book your family theatre tickets and enjoy a day out to remember.