Claws, Paws and Pug Marks

Claws, Paws & Pug Marks - Page 1&2: Claws| 3&4: Pug Marks | 5&6: Declawing


Tiger claws:

Claws are up to 5 inches in length. Forefeet have five claws, including a dew claw, while hind paws have four claws with the dew claw being absent.

Because dew claws are placed high on the limb they do not suffer wear from contact with the ground. This means they become particularly long and sharp, very useful for holding prey.


Claws have a number of uses:

    • As lethal weapons during the hunt. The hook shape enables the tiger to grasp the skin of prey and so prevent its escape.
    • For cleaning. In addition to licking, felids repeatedly scratch. This dislodges dead hair, deals with skin irritations and removes tangles. 
      • Marking out territory through the scratching of trees. Once a tree is chosen it is used repeatedly leaving deep longitudinal marks on the trunk. Not all tigers scratch at trees, some do it frequently while others don't bother. Secretions from glands in the feet leave deposits which are easily smelled by other tigers. For experts the height of claw marks on trees is an indicator of the tiger's size.

  • During tree climbing. Tigers seldom climb trees, but are quite capable of doing so; they may do this if being chased by dogs or when after prey. There have been occasions of men climbing trees to escape an attacking tiger, only to be killed when the tiger followed them up. Though claws make the climb possible, their angle also makes the descent an awkward job.
  • For defence; primarily in encounters with other tigers, but also with other animals and when a cat feels threatened by man.
  • For balance when stretching, walking, running and jumping, amongst other actions.
    • Glands between the toes produce secretions which are left when tigers scratch. These send chemical signals to other cats in the area.

    (Continued Page 2)

Claws, Paws & Pug Marks - Page 1&2: Claws| 3&4: Pug Marks | 5&6: Declawing

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Photography With Thanks To Hasuda Torauma (Photo 1)
Tiger Touch (Photo 2)
Lisa Purcell (Photo 3)
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