So why do Tigers have stripes?
I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled and talked to many zoologists and tiger conservationists about my favorite big cat. I was hoping to have found out some secret or at least relatively unknown information about the tigers stripes. Unfortunately, I kept getting the same answer that you will find on Wikipedia or in any blog. The tiger’s stripes are one of it’s many tools used as a hunter. It serves as camouflage so that it can sneak up on its prey.
The tiger is at the top of the food chain and is considered one of natures best hunters. It attacks and kills other predators, like alligators and crocodiles. I heard stories of this but it seemed a little far fetched until I actually saw some video of it. The tiger SWAM over and killed the alligator and drug it back through the water (where you think it would have a disadvantage) and back into the bush where he ate it. It kind of blew my mind. The tiger really is an impressive hunter which seems to have no real natural enemy other than man.
So back to the stripes. The color patterns of the fur actually start on the skin. If you were to shave a tiger down, its skin would actually show the same striped design. So what about the orange coloring? Honestly, I’m not really sure why it’s orange. Research has been done that shows most animals are pretty much color blind. So the tiger’s stripes and orange color actually just appear as lighter and darker shades of gray to most of its prey. Because most tigers inhabit areas like jungles with thick foliage and brush or areas with tall grass, they blend in perfectly.
The stripe probably makes the tiger the most easily recognizable big cat. They are very unique markings that none of the others have. Apparently, each tiger’s stripes are unique to that animal. Just like fingerprints are unique to every individual person, no two tigers have the same pattern. It might be hard for a human to tell the difference between tigers based on the stripes appearance, but it is thought that it is a way that they identify each other.
Their fur, while beautiful, also serves a purpose in helping them survive. Not all tigers live in warm tropical climates. The Siberian Tiger lives in very cold climates in Russia and China. Their fur helps keep them warm when the cold seasons come around and temperatures drop below freezing. Just like your house cat, they grow that thick coat when they need it, and shed it off when the weather gets warmer. Not only is their coat distinctively beautiful, but it is life saving as well.