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Pet Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Tigers

Tigers are not domesticated cats. One of the six remaining species of tigers (the other three are extinct) should not be kept as a pet. The majority of the US states ban keeping tigers as pets. Many states have banned the keeping of big cats as pets. Tigers are large, powerful, and fanged predators. They eat dozens upon dozens of pounds per day and require acres of high-security enclosures. The risks of attack are far greater than the benefits, making tigers unsuitable for pets. If you’re curious, here are some details on how large cats can live with humans.

Behavior and Temperament
Tigers are dangerous, large, and strong cats. They can take down a 500-pound running animal, are excellent swimmers, and are very territorial. The territory that male tigers can cover in the wild is approximately 40 miles. Females can cover about seven miles. The males mark their territory by dropping urine and dropping feces at strategic places. Tigers live alone, except when they are mating or when the cubs are born.

While tiger cubs may be cute and small, they can grow to be hundreds of pounds in their first year. They will also have canine teeth and claws several inches in length. Because tigers use their claws to walk, owners cannot declaw them. Their large teeth could also hinder their ability to eat and digest food.

Housing the Tiger
The habitat of Tigers requires large areas of secure land. They can jump, climb and swim out of enclosures that are tiger-proof. There have been cases of tigers escaping from private property and zoos, and killing people they meet. This is because they are used to humans being delivered their food. They can roam for miles in the wild so they need large areas of fenced-in land that have access to small lakes or ponds, trees, and shelters.

Even in large enclosures, owners must offer enrichment opportunities. The owner must provide enrichment opportunities for the tigers. Tigers have to use their predator brains to jump, catch, jump, climb and explore. A bored tiger is a sick tiger. Many zoos use large plastic balls for tigers to jump on. They also offer large tree limb areas and hanging containers that contain food. Without elaborate enrichment programs, tigers can get bored and even develop medical depression.

Water and food
A tiger needs to eat a variety of foods, depending on its gender and age. However, an adult tiger can consume up to 88 lbs of meat at once. Antelope, gazelle, and water buffalo are all part of a tiger’s diet.

Their tigers consume a lot of ground beef, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo. They are fed “enrichment items” such as cow femurs and non-live rabbits.

Common Health Problems
According to the Big Cat Rescue, it is often difficult to find a vet who will or can care for a tiger at any age in many areas. According to them, 98 percent of wild big cats die within two years after being placed in captivity. Many of the same diseases that affect house cats such as feline distemper or rabies are also common in tigers. These common, deadly diseases are important to immunize all tigers.

Feline immunodeficiency viruses (FIV), is the feline equivalent of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). FIV can be treated, unlike its human counterpart. FIV, if not treated, can cause a weak immune system that makes the animal more susceptible to contagious diseases.

FeLV is a more serious form of feline leukemia (FeLV) that can also affect tigers. FeLV can cause a variety of other illnesses in cats such as anemia and chronic infections. FeLV can be treated but it can become a fatal condition if left untreated.

Is it legal to own a pet tiger?
Many states place restrictions on exotic pets, including big cats, in areas that are densely populated. 35 states prohibit big cats and 21 ban exotic pets. Before you attempt to get a tiger, or any other large cat, make sure you check the local rules.

Information on Tiger Attacks
Most of the reported attacks by tigers in the United States were severe. Non-lethal maulings occur less often. There were approximately 260 cases of exotic cat attacks that caused injuries. Between 1990 and 2014, approximately 50 percent of all attacks on 16 non-domesticated feline species were reported.

The same statistics show that unaccredited facilities, as well as private menageries, are most at risk for fatal injuries or attacks. Even at accredited institutions, attacks were common from well-trained performing animals when they were being shown or taken on walks in the vicinity of the public. The safety concerns of big cats in America have been enough to prompt legislators to pass both federal and state laws banning the ownership of tigers.

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