Ecological Niche


The Bengal Tiger, like most animals, is a heterotroph which means that they need to consume other organisms to obtain energy. These creatures are also endothermic which means they are warm blooded. By perfroming live birth and being covered head to tail in hair, Bengal Tigers are also classified as mammals. These giant animals can live to be 18-25 years old in the wild and spend most of their lives alone without other tigers.

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A Bengal Tiger trying to nap

The Bengal Tiger, similar to any average household cat, spends a large amount of its time napping. They will usually find themselves sleeping in shady areas or in small, shallow water holes to avoid the vicious biting flies. This explains why when most photos are taken of these tigers are of it lying down or sleeping. Bengal Tigers are in fact nocturnal which means they are more active during the night. Unlike other big animals Bengal Tigers do not hibernate. Since it is hot almost all year in India, they have no need to hibernate to avoid the cold winters.

Bengal Tigers have a total gestation period of around 3.5 months (about 16 weeks) and tend to reproduce in the spring time. Before a female gives birth she will prepare a den where she can raise her young and protect them from predators or natural disasters. These are often in caves, crevices, or even a hollowed tree. Almost anything that can provide complete protection. Tigers, just like other mammals, preform live birth and tend to have two to six cubs in every litter. When these cubs are born their eyes are temporarily sealed shut and they depend completely on their mothers guidance. Their eyes eventually open 6-12 days after birth. First born cubs are typically 1-3 pounds and rely on their mother’s milk for daily nutrition.

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Bengal Tiger cubs

     The mother will not leave her cubs unattended for a while and when the den become too small she will move them individually with her mouth to a new spot. To carry her cubs the mother will bite the excess skin on the back of the cubs neck. Right from the beginning there is a dominant cub who eats more and is favored by the mother.

The cubs, naturally curious animals, will pounce, play, and practice mockery fighting skills that will be useful when they grow up and become independent. The male cubs tend to be more curious than the females, which explains why the survival rate of females is much higher. After watching their mother hunt and stalk prey for many months, the cubs are finally prepared to leave at around 24-30 months old. Female cubs tend to stay closer to their mothers, while males travel further away. These tigers tend to live their lives in solitary so once cubs leave their mother, it’s unlikely that they will return.

Baby Tigers at the Zoo!

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Bengal Tigers on their trophic level

    Since Bengal Tigers are large, carnivorous animals with sharp teeth and claws, they are capable of cause serious damage to prey. They tend to feed on medium to large-sized animals such as wild boar, water buffalo, and hog deer. They also feed on smaller animals such as hares, peafowl, and porcupines, but these rarely curb their hunger. When looking at a food pyramid, Bengal Tigers are found at more of the third or fourth trophic level and are either secondary or tertiary consumers depending on how big the pyramid is. Since they are such vicious carnivores, they can eat just about anything below their size. Over time these Tigers have created exceptional hunting habits that make their prey more vulnerable during attacks. They typically stalk their pray from the side and then grasp onto its neck, kill it, and then drag it several meters to consume it under a shaded cover. Bengal tigers are also able to consume other predators such as leopards, wolves, and crocodiles. In very rare cases these creatures are able to take down animals as big as elephants or rhinoceroses. Also, very rarely, these tigers attack and kill humans.

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A Bengal Tiger hunting

     Just like other predator-prey relationships, the Bengal Tiger helps keep ecosystems in balance. Without them their prey would overpopulate and eventually throw the entire community off balance. The only big predator to the Bengal Tiger is humans. We take their habitat, fur, bones, and meat until they can no longer supply for us and we move on. Humans are greedy when it comes to these animals and play a vital role in their extinction.

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