There are several different kinds of tigers, but all of them share one thing in common they’re very large and powerful animals. Most people who get a tiger as a pet do it specifically because of its size, beauty, intelligence, and strength. However, there are many things about these majestic creatures that make owning them a difficult proposition.
For instance, even though tigers are native only to Asia, they’re now found throughout much of Africa and parts of South America. In addition, they’re classified as wild animals rather than domesticated pets, which means that living with tigers isn’t exactly like having a regular pet such as a cat or dog.
In this article, we’ll explore what makes caring for tigers unique and challenging. We’ll find out why they’re so large, where they come from, how they should be maintained and cared for, and some tips on staying healthy with exotics.
We’ll start by looking at what tigers eat, next we’ll discuss their habitats, and then move on to hygiene since these big guys spend a great deal of time lounging around indoors. Finally, we’ll talk about personality traits and whether certain personalities suit specific types of owners.
Picking up a pet tiger is not like picking up a common house cat or dog tigers are big cats that require special care. They need space, exercise and lots of love. As an exotic animal species, their needs may be more complicated than your typical house pet. And because they have such long lives (tigers can live into their 20s), maintaining them requires a lot of work and money.
On top of all that, you should know that tigers aren’t really suited to captivity. Not everyone has the patience required to bring one home. If you decide to go ahead with getting a tiger anyway, here are some guidelines to help make sure you don’t end up regretting it.
Most experts agree that tigers were initially brought over from India and Southeast Asia when European explorers first explored those areas. The exact origin of captive tigers is unknown, however.
It could be that there were originally no tigers in North America; instead, they were introduced by Europeans. Or, perhaps there weren’t any tigers in North America until someone decided to domesticate them.
Regardless of where they actually came from, tigers have been kept as pets in North America for approximately 200 years. Today, tigers often pop up in advertisements for movies and television shows like “Shark Tank,” “Animal Planet” and “National Geographic.” Since most of us haven’t had the chance to interact with real tigers, we assume that they must be pretty cute. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Although tigers are beautiful, graceful, and intelligent creatures, they’re aggressive and typically have short life spans. When kept as pets, they tend to develop health problems similar to dogs and cats. One major difference between tigers and other mammals, however, is that they’re unable to vocalize.
This lack of communication causes behavioral issues, and it’s almost impossible for humans to tell if they’re unhappy unless they show physical signs of stress. Although tigers are usually friendly toward strangers, they’re known to attack smaller animals. On average, tigers kill dozens of people every year. These attacks occur mostly during mating season.
Since tigers are naturally territorial, it takes quite a bit of effort to keep them in one place. Owners need enough room for the tiger to roam free without being attacked. Some experts recommend setting aside at least 100 square feet (9 sq m) of space per adult tiger.
Even then, owners can expect one tiger to dominate his or her enclosure and become bossy. So if you want a companionable tiger, you might consider adopting two tigers together. A pair of tigers will likely tolerate each other better than a single tiger would.
It’s important to note that although tigers are generally peaceful, they still pose a threat. Because they’re predators, they need to hunt and feed. To do that, they need access to fresh food, water, and shelter. Without proper maintenance, indoor enclosures can easily become dirty and smelly. Also, tigers are natural hunters, meaning they need plenty of opportunities to stalk prey. Keeping them cooped up inside is dangerous for both them and you.
Staying Healthy with Exotics
Like all animals, tigers need adequate nutrition in order to stay healthy. Their diets vary slightly depending on location. For instance, tigers in the United States prefer meat, whereas tigers in Thailand favor eggs and milk products. Regardless of what they eat, tigers should consume roughly 60 percent protein, 15 percent fat, 5 percent calcium, 2 percent phosphorus, and 4 percent moisture. They should also drink plenty of clean water, especially after eating.
A healthy tiger is active and eats frequently. Experts suggest feeding your tiger twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. You can purchase commercial feeds or mix your own using ingredients like rice, cornmeal, soybean meal, and ground turkey. Feeding your tiger raw vegetables or fruits can cause digestive problems, so avoid offering these foods to your tiger.
Once your tiger gets used to his new surroundings, he’ll probably take advantage of his newfound freedom. He’ll likely try running through fences, climbing trees, and digging holes. While this behavior is normal, it can also lead to injuries and damage to property. Keep your tiger confined whenever possible.
Exercise is another essential part of tiger upkeep. Just like their human counterparts, tigers need to burn off excess energy. Exercise stimulates their minds and reduces boredom, which helps reduce aggressive behaviors. Experts say that tigers need extensive amounts of playtime and mental stimulation to remain healthy.
Tigers are classified as carnivores, meaning they primarily eat meat. Other sources of protein include fish and insects. People who raise tigers sometimes supplement their feline meals with small birds or rodents. Despite tigers’ reputation as dangerous animals, they rarely turn violent unless provoked or threatened. If you leave your tiger unattended, it’s best to watch him closely in case he does act aggressively.
The Importance of Hygiene
One way to prevent disease and infection is to practice good cage sanitation and hygiene habits. Cleanliness is extremely important for tigers. Dirty cages create ideal environments for bacteria and fungi to grow. Regularly wash the walls, floors, and bedding material to remove feces, urine, and droppings. Use disinfectant sprays or wipes to sanitize surfaces.
Another reason for frequent cage washing is to protect against parasites. Common parasites of tigers include ticks, fleas, worms, and mites. Ticks and mites can attach themselves to fur and skin tissue, causing irritation. Flea bites can itch and bother a tiger’s sensitive underbelly area. Worms can burrow deep beneath the skin. Parasite prevention methods include spraying insecticides and treating infected animals with medications.
As mentioned earlier, tigers are susceptible to infections due to their inability to vocalize. Infections happen when germs enter the body via cuts, scratches, sores, or wounds. Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can spread quickly into infected tissues. Treatment involves antibiotics, anti-fungal medication, and anti-viral medicine.
Vaccinations are also a key component of tiger healthcare. Unlike other animals, tigers cannot receive vaccinations as most vaccines contain components that could potentially harm them. Instead, veterinarians use subunit vaccines, which provide immunity without harming the animal. Vaccines are administered orally or injected, and they usually last six months to a year.
Determining a tiger’s personality is fairly easy. First, observe how a tiger acts around others. Watch them carefully for patterns. Does your tiger approach other animals cautiously, or does he charge in right away? Is your tiger fearful of people or does he approach them readily? Once you understand your tiger’s reaction style, you can predict how he’d behave in various situations. Observing your tiger’s reactions is crucial because you can identify potential threats before they arise.
Tigers are highly social animals. Before bringing your new friend home, you should ask yourself how outgoing you are and how patient you are with animals.