The largest of all the Asian big cats, tigers rely primarily on sight and sound rather than smell for hunting. They typically hunt alone and stalk prey. A tiger can consume up to 88 pounds of meat at one time. On average, tigers give birth to two to four cubs every two years. If all the cubs in one litter die, a second litter may be produced within five months.
Tigers generally gain independence at two years of age and attain sexual maturity at age three or four for females and at four or five years for males. Juvenile mortality is high however—about half of all cubs do not survive more than two years. Tigers have been known to reach up to 20 years of age in the wild.
Males of the largest subspecies, the Amur (Siberian) tiger, may weigh up to 660 pounds. For males of the smallest subspecies—the Sumatran tiger—upper range is at around 310 pounds. Within each subspecies, males are heavier than females.
Tigers are mostly solitary, apart from associations between mother and offspring. Individual tigers have a large territory, and the size is determined mostly by the availability of prey. Individuals mark their domain with urine, feces, rakes, scrapes and vocalizing.
Across their range, tigers face unrelenting pressures from poaching, retaliatory killings and habitat loss. They are forced to compete for space with dense and often growing human populations.