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Tigers are mammals of the Felidae family, one of four "big cats" in the Panthera genus, and native to the mainland of southeastern Asia. They are apex predators and the largest feline species in the world, comparable in size to the biggest fossil felids. The Bengal Tiger is the most common subspecies of tiger, constituting approximately 80% of the entire tiger population, and is found in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal. An endangered species, the majority of the world's tigers now live in captivity.

Tigers are the heaviest cats found in the wild. Although different subspecies of tiger have different characteristics, in general male tigers weigh between 200 and 320 kilograms (440 and 700 lb); and females between 120 and 181 kg (265 and 400 lb);. On average, males are between 2.6 and 3.3 metres (8 ft 6 in to 10 ft 8 in); in total length, and females are from nose to tip of tail between 2.3 and 2.75 metres (7 ft 6 in and 9 ft); in length. Of the living subspecies, Sumatran tigers are the smallest, and Amur (or Siberian); tigers are the largest.

Most tigers have orange coats, a fair (whitish); medial and ventral area and stripes that vary from brown or hay to pure black. The form and density of stripes differs between subspecies, but most tigers have in excess of 100 stripes. The pattern of stripes is unique to each animal, and thus could potentially be used to identify individuals, much in the same way as fingerprints are used to identify people. This is not, however, a preferred method of identification, due to the difficulty of recording the stripe pattern of a wild tiger. It seems likely that the function of stripes is camouflage, serving to hide these animals from their prey. The stripe pattern is found on a tiger's skin and if shaved, its distinctive camouflage pattern would be preserved.

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