Cleanliness and Tongue


Tigers are very clean animals. Tigresses never take meat into their dens and constant licking keeps cubs clean as well as strengthening the bond between mother and cubs.

Unlike hoofed stock, tigers rarely urinate or defecate in the water they use for drinking or bathing. The above image is a very rare sight. Big cats in general are very fussy regarding their toilet. In captivity, they will move a distance away from their sleeping quarters, while wild tigers deposit their faeces (correct name 'scat') off to the side of main tracks.

Though the tiger spends a great deal of time in the water this is not actually done for cleanliness, but to regulate the body temperature and provide cooling.


An important part of hygiene and cleanliness is the tiger's rasping tongue. In a typical grooming action  the tiger will lick its paws and use them to wipe over the face, ears and forehead. This is identical to the actions used by the domestic cat. Any injuries are carefully licked and coated with antiseptic saliva from the tongue. This aids in preventing infection entering into a wound.


The tongue is also used for lapping water, an action only performed by canids and felids.

Most other animals use a sucking action very similar to a suction pump. Exceptions include the elephant which uses its trunk and the monkey which repeatedly scoops water up in the front paws and drains it into the mouth.


The felid tongue and throat are covered in tiny hook-like projections called papillae. These are very efficient at stripping all traces of meat off a kill and each one contains anything from  a dozen to several thousand taste buds. Despite this fact the tiger has a diminished sense of taste and this may explain why they will happily eat even putrid meat. The claim that tigers do scavenge and eat from well-rotted carcasses in not correct. They are opportunist and will take anything which comes their way.

 Taxonomy | Whiskers | Hearing & Ear Spots | Eyesight | Smell | Teeth | Communication | Flehman | Genetics |
Life Span | Streaking | Claws, Paws & Pug Marks | Skin & Coat | Gait | Tail | Cleanliness & Tongue |
Skeleton & Internal Organs | Big Cat/Small Cat?

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Photography With Thanks To Erick Mangl (Photo 1)
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