Tiger Tails

Tiger tails:

Tails range from 3 to 4 feet in length and are used both for communication and balance, particularly when in a run requiring fast turns like the one being performed by the Bengal tiger shown here.

Tails are clearly quite dispensable, both in domestic and wild cats. Tailless felids like the lynx and the domestic manx seem to experience no hindrance at all.

The length of a tiger is always measured 'between the pegs'. This is a nose to tail tip length measurement, so if the cat was said to be 10 foot long, around 3 to 4 feet of this would be solely the tail.


Because of the way size is determined, the tiger is the largest naturally-breeding cat by virtue of having a long tail, not because it is taller at the shoulder than all other cats. For shoulder height the lion often exceeds the tiger.

Like house cats the mood of a tiger can be read in the position of its tail; a relaxed tiger also has a relaxed tail. A friendly greeting on neutral territory would see the tail carried high and slowly moving back and forth; excitement brings on vigorous swishing, while anger can be seen in a tail which is lowered and twitching.

Scent spraying by tigers:

Scent spraying is a very common form of communication. The liquid used in spraying is not pure urine, it is mixed with scent gland secretions.

Tigers will mark any conspicuous object like trees or rocks. They do this for various reasons:

    • To mark the boundaries of their home ranges. The urine sends a clear signal that another tiger is in the locality and gives a visitor the opportunity to avoid conflict. A tiger coming across a scent mark  may sniff, leap back and snarl. One test carried out in captivity also showed the same reaction to human urine.
    • Females scent mark more frequently during oestrus and the chemical signals within the urine attract a mate. The male will, in turn, usually scent mark where the female has sprayed.

    It is while reading the chemical signals found in these deposits that the flehman response will frequently be seen.

    Other scent communication:

    The anal glands also produce a strong-smelling secretion which is mixed with the faeces and used to further establish territory. 

 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 Aditya Singh (Photos 1-2)
Tiger Touch (Photo 2)
All Rights Reserved. Displayed here with permission, for educational, non-profit purposes.