Sumatran tiger

Tiger, Sumatran

Sumatra, Indonesia

Rain forest

World’s smallest living tiger. Male: 220 – 310 pounds / Female: 165 – 245 pounds.

Gestation period: 105 – 110 days. Sexual maturity is attained at 3 – 4 years by females and 4 – 5 years by males. Give birth every 2 – 4 years.

Wild: Wild pigs, monkeys, birds, fish, reptiles
Zoo: Feline Diet, assorted bones.


  • To hunt, the tiger depends more on sight and hearing than smell. It stays close to the water, hiding in the tall grass. It usually stalks its prey, approaching from the side or rear attempting to get as close as possible. It leaps upon the prey and tries to simultaneously throw it down and grab its throat. Killing is by strangulation or a bite to the back of the neck. Although the tiger is an excellent hunter, it fails in at least 90 percent of its attempts to capture animals.
  • The tiger is essentially solitary, except for courting pairs and females with young. Several adults may come together briefly, especially to share a kill.
  • The main function of roaring is to establish location, and for males and females to find each other. There are a number of other vocalizations, such as chuffs.
  • The tiger communicates by marking with urine, feces, and scratches.


  • During the island’s hot season, Sumatran tigers spend much of their daytime wading in streams to keep cool. Like their mainland counterparts, these cats don’t mind getting wet.
  • Different from other tigers in appearance — longer cheek hair and closer-set, narrower stripes on a more vivid orange coat.
  • Sumatran subspecies is one of the last “island tigers”. Tigers disappeared on the neighboring islands of Java and Bali in the past 50 years due to human overcrowding and habitat destruction.
  • Many people in Asia believe that by eating tiger parts, they will acquire the tiger’s powers, as well as prevent or cure diseases. They believe, for example, eating a tiger’s heart may cause a person to gain strength and courage. As a result, the tiger is being poisoned, poached, and pushed to the edge of extinction.
  • Kerinci people of Indonesia believe that the tigers that roam the Kerinci forests are not “real” tigers, but the spirit-tigers (harimau roh). The spirit tiger is connected to the ancestors of the Kerinci people. Humans and tigers will not disturb each other, and respect each other’s territory — the forest for the tiger and the village and cultivated lands for the people.

Endangered — IUCN considers there to be about 400 in the wild, primarily in the five national parks of Sumatra. The largest population is about 110 tigers in the Gunung Leuser, N.P. At least 100 tiger are in isolated, non-protected areas.

There are 55 Sumatran tigers in captivity in AZA accredited zoos. Protected by CITES Appendix I, 1979.

Walker’s Mammals of the World, Fifth Edition. Vol. 1 by Ronald M. Nowak, John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, London, 1991, pp. 493-498