Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar

The largest cat species on Earth, the tiger, is one of the most iconic creatures in the world. Reaching a total body length of up to 11 ft (3.3 m) and weighing up to 670 lb (306 kg), this ferocious hunter once roamed widely across Asia, from Turkey in the west to the eastern coast of Russia. Sadly, in the past 100 years 93% of its historic range has been lost. Of nine species that once existed, the remaining six are now restricted to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia (Sumatra), Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia,Thailand, Viet Nam and possibly North Korea. The global population in the wild is estimated to number between 3,062 and 3,948 individuals, down from around 100,000 at the start of the 20th century.

Here are 10 absurdly interesting tiger facts about this magnificent and exceedingly rare creature.

1. Tiger urine smells like popcorn

Tigers are highly territorial animals that lead mainly solitary lives. Adults establish and maintain home ranges that may overlap with one another. A tigress usually has a territory of 20 km2 (7.7 sq mi), while the territories of males are much larger, covering 60 to 100 km2 (23 to 39 sq mi). This means that males usually have territories that overlap with one or more females. In order to mark where their territories begin and end, the adults will scratch trees and spray their urine… which happens to smell remarkably like buttered popcorn! From one sniff of this snack-smelling liquid, a tiger can tell the age, gender, and reproductive condition of the urine’s owner. So, if you’re ever walking through the jungle and get a whiff of Orville Redenbacher’s… I’d high tail it out of there if I were you! There might just be a tiger not too far behind.

2. Tigers cannot purr.

You might think that because it’s simply a big cat a tiger would be able to purr, right? Well, that’s actually not the case. Instead of purring to show happiness, a tiger will actually squint its eyes or even close them completely. Since losing vision lowers the tigers defenses, it will only do this if it feels very comfortable and safe. Closing its eyes around you translates to “I feel very happy when you’re here, so much so that I can relax for a bit!”

3. Tigers have been known to imitate the call of other animals to successfully attract prey.

Bears and tigers will typically cross paths with each other since their habitats can overlap. It would make sense, then, that tigers have developed a taste for bears and bear food. In order to lure a bear directly, tigers have been known to imitate the sound of a bear’s prey. Once the bear is close enough (thinking its found a meal for itself) the tiger attacks.

4. Most tigers have yellow eyes, but white tigers usually have blue eyes

Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar

The gene for blue eyes is usually linked to the gene for white fur, so white tigers are much more likely to have blue eyes, rather than the typical yellow kind. In addition to the blue-eyed gene being linked, the gene for being cross-eyed, or boss-eyed, is also linked, so many white tigers have crossed blue eyes. Darn! Gorgeous blue eyes have to come with a price, I guess.

5. Tigers have spiked penises

Ouch. Just writing that sentence made me uncomfortable! Tigers are unable to become erect when aroused. Instead, males penises’ have a bone located inside (called a baculum) and are covered with barbs. Those prickly spikes aid in “keeping the connection” (no pun intended) between the male and female during copulation.

6. A backhand from a tiger can kill you

While tigers typically prefer to use their 10 cm long teeth to crush a victim’s jugular (lovely!), a single strike is enough to do some serious damage. One swipe from a tiger’s front paw is strong enough to smash a bear’s skull or even break its back. Tiger, please.

7. Tigers can come in a variety of colors

Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar

Different hair color genes can cause a tiger to vary from its usual black and orange coloration. A tiger’s coat can be white, gold, black, and quite possibly even blue. While there have been reports of blue tigers, called Maltese Tigers, there have been no verified specimens with this unique coloration… though I have seen enough photoshopped pics to start believing there might have been.

8. Tigers’ have wicked short term memories

A tiger has a short term memory about 30 times longer than a humans’. That means it can remember how amazing that wild boar take-down it just performed was for a while. “Wow, I’m good…”

9. Tigers have hidden symbols in their fur

Photo Credit:

Just above their foreheads are a particular grouping of stripes that bear a striking resemblance to the Chinese character meaning “king.” This has given the tiger a cultural status as a regal animal – move over lions!

10. Tigers can mate with lions and other cats in captivity to produce hybrids.

Photo Credit: TheGoogly

Genetics can be a peculiar thing. Through genetics, male lions have the ability to make large offspring. However, this is counteracted by the natural interference with female lions who create smaller offspring. In the case of tigers, though, there are no such controls going on. When a male lion mates with a female tiger the results are quite impressive – a humongous liger! A liger can weigh up 1000 lbs and reach a length of 11.5 ft! A female lion and a male tiger will produce the much smaller tigon; they often weigh around 180 kilograms (400 lb).

based on the original article from listverse!