White Tigers



White tigers are an endangered species and it is said that less than a dozen have been seen in India in about a hundred years. In fact no sightings have been reported since 1951. This may be caused by the fact that the Royal Bengal tiger population has dropped from 40,000 to 1,800 in the past ten years and as few as one in every 10,000 tigers is white (www.cranes.org/whitetiger).
White tigers are neither albinos nor a special species. They differ from the normally colored tigers by having blue eyes, a pink nose, and creamy white fur with black stripes. If they were albinos they would have pink eyes and a lighter nose color. A tigers stripes are just like human fingerprints meaning that no two tigers have the same pattern of stripes. White tigers aren\'t necessarily born from other white tigers. White tigers get their color by a double recessive allele. A Bengal tiger with two normal alleles or one normal and one white allele is colored orange. Only a double dose of the mutant allele results in white tigers (www.cranes.org/whitetiger). In fact it is even normal to find normal colored cubs in a litter of white tigers (www.5tigers.org.com).
The scientific name for a tiger is Panthera Tigris Tigris. It was initially felis tigris but the genus was changed to panthera because of the tiger\'s characteristic round pupils (www.geocities.com). The largest of the big cats may grow to over 12 feet long from its head to the tip of its tail, and weigh as much as 660 pounds (Cavendish,696).
The white tiger has long been the focus of human fear and respect for years because of its powerful muscular body, loud roar, and frightening snarl revealing large, sharp teeth. Tigers spend all of their time alone which is very unusual (Thapar,115). Each tiger has its own territory, which it marks by scratching the barks of trees, spraying urine, and leaving piles of feces (Cavendish,696). Males are particularly aggressive toward other males and in some cases fights result in death of the weaker tiger. The territories may contain two or three female tigers but in most cases the area extends to over 40 square miles (DuTemple,15).
Tigers are nocturnal animals and prefer to hunt their food under the cover of dense vegetation. They hunt by stealth, stalking their prey silently through the trees in a low crouch until it is within 66 feet (McClung107). The tiger then bounds forward, knocking its victim over with a swipe of its huge forepaw and pouncing on their victims back as it falls to the ground (Cavendish,696). Tigers never creep up on their prey in the same direction as the wind is blowing because the scent of the tiger will be carried to their victim (Morris,87). The tiger kills small prey by a single bite to the back of the neck with its large, powerful jaws and sharp teeth (Cavendish,696). It deals with larger prey by getting a suffocating grip on the throat. Once it has made a kill, the tiger usually drags the carcass under cover before beginning to feed (Morris,87). As the tiger eats it will make loud growling and snarling noises to warn the predators in the area (Thapar,52). If for some reason the tiger has to leave its dinner before it is done eating it will cover the body with twigs and leaves before leaving (Morris,88). Tigers need to eat about 40 pounds of meat a day and will commonly cover up to 12 miles every night in search of their prey (McClung,150). Tigers usually eat deer, wild pigs, wild cattle, young rhinos, baby elephants, domestic animals at near by farms, and occasionally leopards (Morris,88). Once in a while a tiger might eat a human but this is much less common than you would think, because tigers are very shy of human beings and try to stay away from them (Morris,88).
Once tigers have reached three or fours years old they are old enough to breed. Tigers breed every two to three years and the female is the one that goes looking for a mate (McClung,212). The females will go around leaving their scents on bushes or rocks and wait for interested males to come. When the cubs are