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Wild Animals/average weights of tigers and lions

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Hi Jonathan,

I've been interested in big cats for a very long time, but I'm finding it difficult to get reliable information about them. In particular, I want to know the average of weights of bengal tigers, siberian tigers, and lions (the various subspecies). If possible, could you point me to studies done by scientists that have individual data points for specimens?

Another simpler question is that I'm curious as to whether Siberian Tigers are still the largest extant cat. Based on recent findings, it seems as though the Bengal Tiger is significantly heavier (if you exclude the sunderban sub-population) than the Siberian Tiger. Is this true? If not, what is the truth.

Finally, if i under stood correctly lions appear to have a shoulder height of roughly 4 feet whereas I know that tigers rarely exceed 1 meter which is 40 inches. Lengthwise, tigers and lions are roughly the same length as far as i can tell. However, nearly every source I've looked at puts tigers ahead of lions in weight.

I do not doubt this information, but I'm curious as to how this is possible. In order for tigers to be heavier, they must exceed lions in some linear dimension or just have a much larger density. I doubt that the density of a tiger is much different from that of a lion considering that they are anatomically nearly the same cat.

One final albeit slightly unrelated question. What motivates tigers to attack prey such as gaur? It seems to me that attacking such a large and powerful bovine is a huge risk for just a simple meal (even if it is a large one). Even if the tiger isn't killed, it seems quite probably that the tiger will be injured. It seems to me that just taking more medium sized and less aggressive prey is a better option.

Thanks in advance,
Robi

Answer
Dear Robi

Thank you for your questions. I have tried to find source material, but you should check the bibliographies of websites to obtain additional information.

I wish to thank the authors of the websites and books I used. Sunquist refers to Family Felidae by M.E.Sunquist and F.C. Sunquist in Volume 1 of the Handbook of Mammals of the World, published by Lynx. I have given measurements for male animals.

1. What are the average weights of Bengal tigers, Siberian tigers and lions?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger says that male Bengal tigers weigh 175-260 kg (390-570 lb), giving an average weight of about 218 kg (480 lb), but tigers in northern India and Nepal often average 235 kg (520 lb). The male Siberian tiger has an average weight of around 227 kg, while http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberian_tiger gives the average weight of an adult male of more than 35 months of age as 176.4 kg (389 lb) with the mean weight of historical Siberian tigers being 215.3 kg (475 lb) for males.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion says that adult male lions weigh 150250 kg (330550 lb) and Nowell and Jackson report an average weight of 181 kg (400 lb).

2. Is the Bengal Tiger (excluding the Sunderban sub-population) significantly heavier than the Siberian tiger?
Please note that this question can be very controversial, as the size of different subspecies is usually given as the 'average' size, rather than being based on the largest known individual. This means that you cannot exclude the Sunderban sub-population when deciding which tiger subspecies is heaviest.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger says the heaviest wild tiger was a Bengal tiger weighing 389 kg (860 lb), but its weight may have been boosted as it had eaten a water buffalo the previous night.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger says that male Bengal tigers weigh 175-260 kg (390-570 lb), giving an average weight of about 218 kg (480 lb). The tigers tend to be larger in northern India and Nepal, often averaging 235 kg (520 lb). The male Siberian tiger has an average weight of around 227 kg, with an unreliable record of 384 kg (850 lb). The average weight of the Siberian tiger is above that of the Bengal tiger, but the average weight of a Bengal tiger from northern India and Nepal is above that of the average Siberian tiger.

3. Is the shoulder height of lions roughly 4 feet (120 cm), while tigers rarely exceed 40 inches (about 1 m), despite tigers and lions being roughly the same length and tigers being heavier than lions? If so, why don't tigers exceed lions in some linear dimension or have a much larger density, despite being nearly anatomically identical?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger gives a total body length of up to 3.3 m (11 ft), tail length of 0.6 to 1.1 m (2.0 to 3.6 ft), shoulder height of 0.7-1.22 m (2.3-4.0 ft) and weight up to 306 kg (670 lb) for the tiger. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger says that an average adult male tiger from Northern India or Siberia outweighs an average adult male lion by around 45.5 kg (100 lb).
Sunquist gives the following figures for tigers: Head-body 146-290 cm, tail 72-109 cm, shoulder height about 1 m, weight 75-325 kg. Sunquist gives the following figures for lions: Head-body 172-250 cm, tail 61-100 cm, shoulder height 107-123 cm, weight 150-225 kg (average 190 kg).  
While lions have a higher average shoulder height, tigers (218 cm) have a slightly higher average body length than lions (211 cm) and a higher tail length (91 cm) than lions (81 cm). This may account for the higher average weight of tigers (200 kg), compared to lions (190 kg).   
http://www.diffen.com/difference/Lion_vs_Tiger, http://wildanimalelite.yuku.com/topic/261/Lion-vs-Tiger-Skeletal-Comparison and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_versus_lion give comparisons between lions and tigers. As you say, I doubt if there are any real differences in the basic anatomy of lions and tigers.

4. What motivates tigers to attack prey such as gaur and risk injury, rather than just taking more medium sized and less aggressive prey?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger#Hunting_and_diet says that tigers tend to prefer hunting medium-sized prey rather than large prey, such as gaurs, where they often select the calves or infirm individuals. http://wildanimalelite.yuku.com/topic/71/The-Myth-of-tigers-preying-on-Gaurs? suggests that tigers will only kill healthy adult gaurs follwoing a surprise attack. http://thewebsiteofeverything.com/animals/mammals/Artiodactyla/Bovidae/Bos/Bos-f says there are more cases of tigers being killed by gaurs, rather than tigers killing gaurs. This also indicates that tigers rarely attack healthy adult guars, even though they are capale of killing them, due to the high risk of injury.

I hope this helps

All the best

Jonathan

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Jonathan Wright

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I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

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I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

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WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

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Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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