How Long Do Tigers Live

How long do tigers live

This page was last updated on 1 May 2022

How Long Do Tigers Live In 2022

The tiger (alongside the male lion or Panthera leo) is undoubtedly the most majestic of the big cats, with their beautiful coat pattern, and indeed the largest cat species. Their heightened predator’s senses, with their white whiskers helping them detect prey like wild boar and other large animals in long grass or dense jungle cover from great distances, have long made them regarded as truly fascinating animals. 

Tiger experts are often asked: “how long do tigers live?”. However, there is no straight forward estimate or average for a tiger life span. It is determined by a range of factors, be it their different habitats – ranging from the Russian Far East to tropical rainforests – or the difference between a tiger in a jungle and tigers in capitavity. 

This article will explain all these factors and how they result in great variety in the life expectancy of this fascinating animal. 

Natural History of Tigers

Tiger (panthera tigris in Latin) are very powerful hunters. They have a stocky build, a broad head and short tail. Their thick fur is pale yellow with black stripes, which provide camouflage while the tiger hunts its prey at night.

There are six subspecies of tigers found in Asia: the Siberian Tiger, the Central Asian or Caspian Tiger, the South China Tiger, Indo Chinese tiger, the Indonesian or Sumatran Tiger (also known as the Bali Tiger) and the Malayan tiger. The natural habitat of the wild Bengal tiger is India’s grasslands and forests south of the Himalayas.

Today their population has declined dramatically, and the species is listed as endangered by WWF. All types of tiger subspecies have been killed for their body parts to be used in traditional Asian medicine over the years With this reduction in numbers, there is concern that some subspecies will not be around much longer if conservation efforts do not improve. This status unfortunately is a major impact on tigers, similar big cats and other wild animals’ life expectancy. 

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As with other species, female tigers will typically only have one or two tiger cubs which makes it difficult for their species’ survival as they are extremely protective over their young. They will kill other tiger cubs to protect their own offspring. 

This has made it difficult for scientists to determine how long the average lifespan of tiger species that live in the wild 

as they are not able to study them in the wild without disrupting their natural behaviour by removing them from groups and entering onto their own territories. 

Tigers are the largest members of the cat family (Felidae) and the biggest of all cats is called “Amur Tiger” or Siberian Tiger, which means it lives in Eastern Asia. 

This species can get up to 3 m long and with an average weight of up to 300 kg. Primarily, tigers eat ungulates, but they also eat smaller mammals like raccoon dogs, fish, reptiles and even other predators like bears and crocodiles. They have been successfully studied in the wild thanks to conservation efforts since 1958 when Peter Simon Pallas, a German zoologist, first recorded them.

Two subspecies of tigers are on the endangered species list: Sumatran tigers and South China tigers. Both have fewer than 400 animals left living in their natural habitats. However, many other tiger populations are being threatened by deforestation, poaching, loss of prey species due to overhunting by humans and loss of habitat as more land is taken. The varying scale of human destruction is one of the reasons why different tiger species’ average lifespan also varies. 

Where Do Tigers Live?

The stereotypical image of this animal is the tiger in the rainforest, but tigers can live in a variety of habitats. 

As long as their prey is available they can adapt to any habitat and environment. However, a tiger habitat requires sufficient cover for stalking and protection from other predators like wolves and large pythons. 

The natural habitat of most tiger species is clear from their name, although some like the Siberian Tiger have alternative names like the Amur Tiger. Also, the Bengal Tiger can in fact be found in parts of India outside of Bengal. Similarly, the Siberian Tiger has been said to have been spotted in North Korea as well as the Russian Far East. This diversity does not even count the many tigers in captivity; in zoos across the world. 

How Long Do Tigers Live For?

The life expectancy of tigers depends on various factors like habitats, prey and human influence. 

A male Amur Tiger in the wild can live up to 16 years (in some cases even more), whereas a female-only has about half of that time (7-10 years). Male tigers tend to have a shorter life expectance than the female tiger as they reach sexual maturity earlier than their mates. 

Life Cycle of the Tiger

Tigers reach sexual maturity at around 3-4 years of age. They are able to reproduce right after their first heat cycle. A female gives birth to an average litter size of 2-4 cubs (most common is 2), and they stay with her until they are about 1 year old, which means for almost all their lives, she has to take care of them without any help from the father. 

Tigers can give birth throughout most of the year if conditions are favourable, but it’s most common between November and April. Due to the fact that tigers live solitary lives, only coming together for mating (and sometimes not even then), females can give birth up to 4 times a year if there is enough prey available. Their average lifespan can be explained by their various stages.

where do tigers live

Infancy

Tigers are born blind. Infant tigers weigh only about 0.5 kg, being more similar to the weight of small animals, and remain in a den for up to 2 months before they follow their mother on hunting trips. They learn how to hunt by watching her and playing with the prey, but don’t start catching their own until around 6-8 months old.

Childhood

After about 1.5 years, the cubs are ready to leave the mother tiger and start their own lives, but if conditions allow – i.e. when there are many natural threats – cubs remain until they reach sexual maturity

The tiger (alongside the male lion or Panthera leo) is undoubtedly the most majestic of the big cats, with their beautiful coat pattern, and indeed the largest cat species.

Young Adults

At around 4-5 years of age, tigers are mature enough to produce offspring of their own. They often live with a sibling or the mother tiger for another year before leaving to start their life on their own. This contradicts the familiar impression that tigers are solitary animals.

Adulthood

Once they reach 7-10 years of age most tigers die due to hunting, poaching and other human activities. However, some individuals have made it past this point and even reached a maximum age of 20 years old in captivity (if conditions allow).

Tiger Subspecies With Shortest Lifespan

The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) is the smallest of all living subspecies and is critically endangered, making it have the lowest life expectancy compared to other tigers. They live on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and only around 300 individuals remain in the wild. The biggest threat to their existence is human influence, as they are widely hunted for traditional medicine and sport, occupy small habitats and prey upon domesticated animals like livestock and even people.

Estimates show that their life expectancy in the wild rarely exceeds 10 years. There have been some reports about tigers reaching 25-30 years under captive conditions (with an adequate supply of food), but it’s nearly impossible to keep such a large carnivore alive for such a long time due to various age-related diseases like arthritis or cancer.

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How Long Do Tigers Live in the Wild

According to research, the average wild tigers have a lifespan of 7-10 years. Most tigers die due to lack of prey, hunting or poaching and human activities in general. The few individuals that reach old age are often killed by other animals like wolves or large pythons.

How Long Do Bengal Tigers Live

Bengal tigers are the most common subspecies of tigers, which makes them the best studied one as well. Their average life expectancy in India is around 10 years in the wild and 16-18 years in zoos

How Long Do White Tigers Live

White tigers are the result of captive breeding and most don’t reach their full potential in terms of size and colour. This is most likely due to inbreeding, limited gene pool, malnutrition or other forms of mistreatment when they were cubs. 

A rare mutation that changes the colour of their fur to white only happens if both parents carry this recessive gene. If one parent has it but not the other there is a chance that one offspring will inherit it, but all others will be orange or brown with no special markings. 

The average life expectancy of white tigers is around 20-25 years under captive conditions, but a significant number don’t make it past their first year due to various problems.

How Long Do Siberian Tigers Live

Siberian tigers roam the forests between eastern Russia and northeastern China. They live in some of the densest woodlands that still exist today and are known as the largest wild cats on earth.

Siberian tigers naturally live longer than most other subspecies, although environmental conditions can influence their lifespan as well. It’s estimated that they can survive up to 20 years in the wild and well over 30 years in captivity.

How Long Do Sumatran Tigers Live

Sumatran tigers are the smallest of all living subspecies. They live on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and their habitat is rapidly disappearing because of deforestation. Only around 300 individuals remain in the wild, but thankfully there has been a significant effort from both local and international governments to save them from extinction.

Unfortunately due to rapid deforestation and other human activities, the Sumatran tiger lifespan is rarely past 10 years in the wild. Poaching remains a problem as well because people hunt them for traditional medicine or sport. Their numbers continue to dwindle every year and this beautiful animal might go extinct very soon if no action is taken right now.

How Long Do Indochinese Tigers Live

The Indochinese tiger is a smaller subspecies that shares the same habitats in Southeast Asia with Sumatran tigers. They can also be found in part of India and China’s Yunnan province, where their population numbers have been steadily increasing for the past few years.

Their estimated life expectancy in the wild is around 10-13 years and they rarely exceed 20 years of age under captivity. There are reports of individuals reaching 25-30 years, but it’s very rare to meet such old carnivores that were lucky enough to avoid all dangers on their way.

How Long Do Malayan Tigers Live

Malayan tigers are closely related to Indochinese tigers, but their population numbers are even smaller. The biggest threats they face come from humans that destroy their natural habitats for commercial activities.

Males can reach 10 years old in the wild and around 12-18 years of age under captivity, while females usually live up to 15 years in the wild and 18+ years in zoos.

How Long Do South China Tigers Live

South China tigers are the most critically endangered subspecies, and there is a real possibility that they might go extinct in the near future. They can be found in parts of Southeast Asia, but their population numbers have been constantly decreasing for many years.

Unfortunately there aren’t any recent reports from experts studying their lifestyle in the wild, so it’s hard to determine their average life expectancy . In captivity, South China tigers rarely exceed 20 years due to various breed-related issues and problems with their health.

How Long Do Javan Tigers Live

The Javan tiger was the smallest subspecies of all and it went extinct in the late 1980s due to rampant poaching. It couldn’t survive human expansion that destroyed its natural habitat, so there are no more Javan tigers left in the wild.

Although they haven’t been seen for several decades, some scientists believe they still exist hidden deep inside dense Indonesian jungles. Either way, their life expectancy is estimated at 8-10 years under normal conditions.

How Long Do Balinese Tigers Live

Balinese tigers looked very similar to the Javan tiger, but they were bigger in size and they also lived on a different island in Indonesia. They went extinct in the late 1980s for the same reasons that caused their smaller cousins demise – poaching and habitat loss.

Their maximum life expectancy is unknown, but it’s believed to be around 10 years.

How long Do Amur Tigers live?

We saved the biggest and the most majestic tiger for last. The Amur tiger is also known as the Siberian tiger due to its original habitats in Russia’s Far East Siberia, where it’s almost extinct at this point.

Its population numbers are still very low due to various human activities, but efforts are being made to improve their situation. Conservation programs were introduced all across Asia and North America so they can expand into new territories in future.

Amur tigers live in swamps, dense forests and mountains that are covered with snow during wintertime. They can be found on both sides of the Amur River (hence their name) up to altitudes of 1,700 meters above sea level.

Their average life expectancy is around 14-18 years in the wild and 20+ years under captivity, but there are reports of some individuals living up to 30-35 years.

tiger in a jungle

How Many Tigers are Left in the wild?

Even though they are very rare in the modern era, tigers are still widely distributed across Asia, with an exception for some areas. They can be found on the Indian subcontinent, Iran, China and parts of Southeast Asia up to Indonesia.

Their population numbers have significantly decreased during the last few decades due to human activities that devastated their natural habitats. As a result of this, there were only 3200 tigers left all across Asia during the early 2000s .

However, conservation efforts managed to increase their numbers by 500% within 15 years, and today there are more than 6800 tigers living in the wild.

How Long Do Tigers Live in Captivity?

Although they are slowly recovering their populations, tigers face many threats in the modern era. One of the main problems is that there are almost 7 billion humans living on Earth with introduction of new technologies taking over traditional ways of life.

That’s why when tigers are captured and sent to zoos, it’s usually done for educational purposes or trying to introduce them to a more favorable environment where they won’t be abused by poachers.

Tigers in captivity live longer than their wild counterparts due to better healthcare offered under the supervision of professional animal trainers. As a result, most tigers can reach 10-15 years in normal conditions, but some rare individuals have been known to exceed 20-25 years of age under good conditions.

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Article author

James Lloyd

I am the primary writer and author for Help and Advice, having originally helped start the site because I recognised that there was a need for easy to read, free and comprehensive information on the web. I have been able to use my background in finance to produce a number of articles for the site, as well as develop the financial fitness assessment tool. This is a tool that provides you with practical advice on improving your personal financial health.

Outside of work I am a keen rugby player and used to play up to a semi-professional level before the years of injury finally took their toll.  Now you are more likely to see me in the clubhouse enjoying the game.

Email – james@helpandadvice.co.uk

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Tigers are Left in the wild?

Even though they are very rare in the modern era, tigers are still widely distributed across Asia, with an exception for some areas.

How long Do Amur Tigers live?

We saved the biggest and the most majestic tiger for last. The Amur tiger is also known as the Siberian tiger due to its original habitats in Russia’s Far East Siberia, where it’s almost extinct at this point.

How Long Do Tigers Live For?

The life expectancy of tigers depends on various factors like habitats, prey and human influence.

Where Do Tigers Live?

The stereotypical image of this animal is the tiger in the rainforest, but tigers can live in a variety of habitats.

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