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19 amazing tiger facts

Today is Global Tiger Day and we’re celebrating this amazing big cat. This year has already been a positive one for tigers – for the first time in a century, the number of wild tigers is rising. WWF and the governments in the 13 countries with tiger populations have been working hard towards a goal known as Tx2 – to double the wild tiger population to 6,400 by 2022, the next Chinese year of the tiger. As a result of our efforts, there are now about 3,890 wild tigers on the planet, up from an all-time low of 3,200 in 2010.

To help us celebrate, here is a list of 19 things you may not have known about tigers:

1. Shave a tiger, and it still has stripes as they’re on the skin, not just the fur.

Close-up of a Siberian tiger’s stripes © naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

Close-up of a Siberian tiger’s stripes © naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

2. A tiger’s night vision is up to six times better than ours.

A Bengal tiger, taken by a camera trap in Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India © Christy Williams / WWF

A Bengal tiger, taken by a camera trap in Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India © Christy Williams / WWF

3. A tiger’s hind legs are longer than its front legs, giving them the ability to leap up to 10 metres forward.

Two Siberian tigers leaping in snow © naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

Two Siberian tigers leaping in snow © naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

4. A tiger’s canine teeth have pressure-sensing nerves so it knows exactly where to deliver the killing bite to their prey.

Panthera tigris altaica Amur tiger Showing teeth. © Chris Martin Bahr / WWF

Panthera tigris altaica Amur tiger Showing teeth. © Chris Martin Bahr / WWF

5. When hunting, tigers can reach speeds of up to 65km/h.

Sumatran tiger running © naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

Sumatran tiger running © naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

6. Despite their power, strength and patience, only around one in 10 hunts is successful.

Indian tiger in the Ranthambore National Park Rajasthan, India © Michel Terrettaz / WWF

Indian tiger in the Ranthambore National Park Rajasthan, India © Michel Terrettaz / WWF

7. Tigers have whiskers in five places: around their nose, above their eyes, on their cheeks, behind their front legs and scattered throughout their fur.

Siberian tiger carrying young cub in mouth © naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

Siberian tiger carrying young cub in mouth © naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

8. Whiskers help tigers navigate in the dark and attack prey.

Bengal tiger portrait, India © naturepl.com / Francois Savigny / WWF

Bengal tiger portrait, India © naturepl.com / Francois Savigny / WWF

9. A tiger’s tail can be up to one metre long.

Close up of tail and rear legs of Siberian tiger, China © naturepl.com / Juan Carlos Munoz / WWF

Close up of tail and rear legs of Siberian tiger, China © naturepl.com / Juan Carlos Munoz / WWF

10 and 11. Watch the video below to find two bonus facts.

12. A tiger’s tongue has features that help strip feathers, fur and meat from prey.

Bengal tiger showing teeth and tongue, Asia © naturepl.com / Visuals Unlimited / WWF

Bengal tiger showing teeth and tongue, Asia © naturepl.com / Visuals Unlimited / WWF

13. Tigers are the largest cat species in the world: An adult tiger can weigh up to 300 kg (660 lbs).

A tiger in Shukla Wildlife Reserve taken by camera trap © WWF-Nepal

A tiger in Shukla Wildlife Reserve taken by camera trap © WWF-Nepal

14. Tigers have retractable claws – helping to keep them sharp and allowing the tiger to tread silently up to unsuspecting prey.

Tiger in Bandhavgarh National Park, India © Staffan Widstrand / WWF

Tiger in Bandhavgarh National Park, India © Staffan Widstrand / WWF

15. A tiger’s hearing is nearly five times better than ours.

Siberian tiger cub © David Lawson / WWF-UK

Siberian tiger cub © David Lawson / WWF-UK

16. Tigers can swivel their ears like a radar dish to focus on sound signals.

Bengal tiger resting, India © Staffan Widstrand / WWF

Bengal tiger resting, India © Staffan Widstrand / WWF

17. Tigers communicate through chemicals called pheromones. A tiger picks up a scent on its upper lip and inhales the pheromones into a pouch-like organ on the roof of its mouth for identification.

Close up of a tiger's face © National Geographic Stock / Michael Nichols / WWF

Close up of a tiger’s face © National Geographic Stock / Michael Nichols / WWF

18. A tiger’s roar can be heard as far as three kilometres away.

A young tiger captured by camera trap in Bukit Betabuh Protection Forest © WWF-Indonesia / Tiger Survey Team

A young tiger captured by camera trap in Bukit Betabuh Protection Forest © WWF-Indonesia / Tiger Survey Team

19. A century ago, tigers were found all throughout Asia. Their range has now been reduced to around seven per cent of its former size.

Siberian tiger © naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

Siberian tiger © naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

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