Sumatran tiger facts
From their history to their impressive hunting skills, there’s always something new to learn about everyone’s favourite big cat.
1. They are the smallest tigers
There are five tiger subspecies and Sumatran tigers are the smallest.
2. Cubs learn to hunt quickly
Tiger cubs will start hunting from as young as one year old, but they’ll stay with their mother until they’re two years old.
3. They've been around for 2 million years
Fossils of tiger remains in China show that tigers could be over 2 million years old!
4. They love water
Unlike like most of their cousins, tigers love swimming and will frequently cool off by having a dip in nearby rivers.
5. They're unique
No two tigers are ever the same, as each has its own unique stripe pattern. This makes tigers identifiable to conservationists in the wild.
6. They're loud
A tiger’s roar is so loud that is can be heard from two miles away.
7. They have narrow stripes
Sumatran tigers have the narrowest black stripes of any tiger subspecies and they're also the darkest in orange compared to other subspecies. This is because they are ambush predators in the Indonesian jungle and need to blend in amongst the thick vegetation so it helps with camouflage. No two tigers have the exact same set of markings, making them identifiable by their uniquely patterned coats.
8. They can jump
Tigers are excellent jumpers. Even when sitting down, a tiger can leap forward 10 metres.
9. They have five different types of whiskers
These whiskers pick up on vibrations their prey makes when moving through the jungle.
10. They have a strong bite
A tiger can bite down with the force of 1000 pounds.
11. The collective noun is a streak
A group of tigers is known as an ‘ambush’ or a ‘streak’.
12. Rarest species of tiger
Sumatran tigers are the rarest species of tiger, classified as Critically Endangered, with only 500-600 individuals left in the wild.
What do Sumatran tigers look like?
Deep orange coats with broad black stripes. Sumatran tigers have the darkest coats of all tiger subspecies and long whiskers.
How do Sumatran tigers hunt?
Tigers are both good swimmers and climbers with powerful muscular builds and large claws. In order to catch prey, they hunt alone. They get as close as possible to their prey using their stripes as camouflage to stay hidden, then spring into attack, killing the prey with a bite to the neck.
What do Sumatran tigers eat?
Mainly wild cattle, wild pigs and deer.
Sumatran tiger habitat
In tropical rainforest.
Where do Sumatran tigers live?
On the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
What threats do Sumatran tigers face?
Illegal hunting is a serious threat. Their skins and body parts fetch high prices on the black market.
How many Sumatran tigers are left in the wild?
It’s estimated that there are between 500-600 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.
How to help Sumatran tigers
Buy sustainable palm oil, Sumatran tigers is being wiped out by unsustainable palm oil and by looking out for the RSPO sustainability logo during your supermarket shop you can help make a difference. While every time you visit the Zoo you’re helping support our vital conservation work with Sumatran tigers and other species at risk.
We're working at the cutting-edge of conservation to protect Sumatran tigers and other endangered tigers in Asia. Our work involves engaging with industries and businesses in Indonesia as well as protecting Sumatran tigers through WildCats Conservation Alliance (link opens in a new window).