Although tigers have been in the fossil record for around two million years, they were only described as recently as 1758 in a scientific paper called Systema Naturae by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. They are one of the most closely-studied of all the world’s great animals and today we possess great swathes of information about these colossal cats including detailed information about tiger weight. This article will answer one of the most common questions about tigers – how much does a tiger weigh?
How Much Does A Tiger Weigh?
Tigers are the biggest and heaviest of all the big cats, but just how big and heavy are they? Tiger weight doesn’t vary as wildly as the size of sharks (from the 25 tonne whale shark to the dwarf lanternshark weighing less than a bag of sugar) but they aren’t all the same size, far from it. Here is the lowdown on the scale of these awesome animals.
Tiger Weight at Birth
After a gestation period of around 100 days, most female tigers give birth between March and June. Newborn tiger cubs usually weigh between 0.7kg and 1.6kg.
At three to four months they are the size of a labrador and by six months, males weigh between 40kg and 45kg and females between 25kg and 35kg.
However, generally speaking when it comes to understanding how much an adult tiger weighs, the answer very much depends on which subspecies of tiger we consider.
The Siberian tiger is the biggest of all tigers and the biggest of all big cats. The largest males measure up to 3.3 metres long and can weigh over 300kg. The biggest females measure up to 2.7 metres, weighing up to 180kg.
As with all wild animals, there are tales of exceptional specimens, including a wild Siberian tiger shot in Manchuria in 1943 measuring 3.5 metres long and weighing a staggering 408kg, though there’s no documented evidence and it’s likely these stories are either fabrications or exaggerations.
Second only to the Siberian tiger, the mighty Bengal tiger has been resident in the Indian subcontinent for around 16,000 years. With around 2,900 in the wild, they are the world’s most populous tiger. Weight-wise, they are extremely big and powerful, with males weighing up to 275kg and females a little smaller, up to around 175kg.
The heaviest Bengal tiger ever recorded was a massive male shot in 1967 in the Himalayan foothills – which tipped the scales at an enormous 389kg, though it was reportedly weighed not long after eating a buffalo calf!
Living in Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, ‘how much does a tiger weigh’ is one of the most common questions asked about this rare and beautiful tiger. For Indochinese tigers, males weigh up to 195kg and females up to 130kg.
The Indochinese tiger did once live all over Southeast Asia, but sadly it has not been seen in Vietnam since 1997. It is also believed that there are no breeding Indochinese tigers left in either China or Cambodia.
South China Tigers
One of the smaller tiger species, male South China tigers measure up to 2.5 metres and can weigh 170kg. Females are smaller, averaging around 2.1 metres and weighing between 100 and 115kg.
Sadly, the South China tiger is now on the brink of extinction. In the 1950s the population was estimated to be 4,000 strong. By the late 1980s that number was down as low as 40. Today, scientists believe the South China tiger is functionally extinct, meaning there are few, if any breeding tigers left in the wild.
The Sunda tigers are the last remaining tigers on the Indonesian islands. They once inhabited the famous islands of Borneo, Java, Sulawesi, Bali, Lombok, Timor and Komodo. Today, they can only be found on the island of Sumatra, hence they are more commonly known as Sumatran tigers.
Confirming how much does a Sunda tiger weigh is relatively easy given the vast amount of information we have on these tigers. They are much smaller than the Siberian and Bengal tigers, with males weighing up to 140kg and females weighing a maximum of 110kg.
On average, the Malayan subspecies is quite small when compared to most tigers. Weight for males is usually between 115kg and 130kg and females are a little smaller, weighing around 90kg – 100kg.
Malayan tigers are excellent swimmers. They can often be found playing in shallow rivers and lakes – an excellent method for keeping cool – and with their webbed paws and strong leg muscles, they will often cross rivers to find food. It is the national animal of Malaysia and the Malaysian people are so proud of it that they call it Pak Belang which translates to ‘Uncle Stripes’!