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Reddish tan, striped great cat (Panthera tigris) of forests, grasslands, and swamps in eastern Russia, South Asia, Sumatra, and a few small parts of China. Tigers are solitary, nocturnal hunters, preying on medium-sized mammals (e.g., deer). Locality and subspecies determine size, colour, and stripes. Southern tigers, such as the Bengal tiger (P. tigris tigris), are smaller and more brightly coloured than northern ones, such as the rare Siberian tiger (P. tigris altaica). Males grow to more than 3 ft (1 m) high and 7 ft (2.2 m) long, excluding the 3-ft (1-m) tail, and may weigh 350–640 lb (160–290 kg). Tigers live about 11 years. The persistent use of tiger parts as tonics or medicines, despite evidence refuting their efficacy, is rooted in the awe that the cat has inspired for millennia. Although internationally protected, tigers are seriously endangered; their populations shrank by more than 90% in the last century, and three subspecies are now extinct.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on tiger, visit Britannica.com.