Big Cat Quick Guide
Often times, the term "big cats" only includes tigers, lions, leopards (panthers) and jaguars. However, many people also include cheetahs and cougars (aka mountain lions, pumas) as big cats.
It's estimated that in the United States alone, there are about 15,000 tigers, lions, leopards and other species of big cats are kept as exotic pets.
Leopards can be found living naturally in Asia, Africa and even in Southern Europe, and are the third largest member of the big cat family, just after tigers and lions. They are extremely strong for their size, able to carry large prey up trees, where they can be eaten in safety from lions and hyenas.
Just like human finger prints, each leopard has a totally unique pattern of spots.
Black leopards are often called "black panthers". When mating a male leopard with a lioness, the offspring are called "leopons". However, breeding "lipards" (male lion, female leopard) haven't been successful, likely due to the fact that female leopards aren't big enough to carry offspring as large as a lion's. Mating leopards and pumas has brought some success with the cubs refereed to as "pumpers".
While tigers are only found in Asia, they can be found naturally in a wide range of conditions ranging from the cold of Siberia (Siberian tiger) to the tropical rain forests of Bangladesh and India, and can live in almost any climate.
Tigers are ambush hunters, using their orange coat with black stripes for camouflage in forests. Tigers are excellent swimmers and truly enjoy a dip in the water.
Tigers are an endangered species. The number of tigers living in the wild has dramatically declined from about 100,000 in 1900, to only about 6,000 today.
Male tigers average 500 pounds
Are about 40" high at the shoulder
They average 7 to 9 feet from tip to tip
They live 15-20 years.
The tiger is the largest cat, with the largest tiger being the Amur Tiger.
Lions are the only cats to live in family groups, known as prides, which will have any where from 5 to 40 members. Most prides consist of 1-3 male lions, with the rest being made up from related females.
Unlike most other big cats which live in forests or jungles, lions live in wide open spaces of the African savanna, or grasslands.
Male lions average 400 pounds
Are 3 feet (36 inches) at the shoulder
Average 6 to 8 feet long, from tip to tip
Live 15-20 years.
Jaguars are the largest cat found in the western hemisphere and are found throughout South and Central America. Jaguars have the strongest teeth and jaws (and bite force) of any cat, and rely on their strength more than speed. They prey on small rodents, deer, turtles and caiman. Like tigers, they also love water and will often swim. Due to a smaller larynx, jaguars don't "roar".
Preservation of the jaguar is tough from a political point of view, as the range of the jaguar spans at least 18 counties, most of which have no laws protecting it. In the 1940s, Jaguars became extinct in the United States, but have recently been reported in Southern Arizona. But there is some good news...More than 60 years after becoming extinct in the southwestern United States, jaguars have recently been sighted again in southern Arizona.
Big Cats as Exotic Pets
In the 1960s and 70s, it became "cool" for the wealthy to keep big cats as pets. At that time, it was perfectly legal to own a big cat and no special licenses or permits were required.
Back in the 60's/70's I'm sure that people used to keep these exotic pets without any kind of license and it wasn't illegal back then. Big Cats were once kept as pets by the rich and famous. Since then, 19 U.S. states have banned the owning of big cats and other dangerous animals.
However, in the remaining states, it is amazing easy to obtain big cats as pets, with the sad part being reportedly that 98% of big cats obtained as pets will die with in two years, with many others given to zoos or sanctuaries.
Big Cat Wildlife Tours:
Wildlife Travel: Mountain Lions
Wildlife Travel: Jaguars
Wildlife Travel: Cheetahs
Wildlife Travel: Tigers
Wildlife Travel: Lions
Wildlife Travel: Leopards
Big Cats in the Newz:
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Wall of Big Cat Videos:
Please add this page to all your
favorite bookmark sites: