Whiskers - Page 1: Description | 2: Uses

Whisker growth:

Vibrissae, or tactile hairs, (commonly termed whiskers), grow in three places on the head:

    • Supercilary whiskers are located on the eyebrows.
    • Genal whiskers are found to the back of the cheek.
    • Mystacial whiskers are on either side of the muzzle and are the longest of the three sets.

    Dogs have an extra facial set below the chin. It is probable this final set isn't required on felids because they rarely need to track prey by sniffing for ground odours.

    Tiger facial whiskers average around fifteen centimetres, with those of males being longest and heaviest. Of all the tiger subspecies it is the Sumatran which carries the most generous whiskers.

    Whiskers grow and fall out just like nails and fur, but they are around three times thicker than fur and rooted very deeply in areas of the face which have a plentiful supply of blood vessels and nerves.

Body whiskers:

Tylotrichs are slightly longer single hairs randomly spread across a felid's coat. These operate in the same manner as facial whiskers to deliver sensory information. These cat be easily seen through the pelage of most domestic cats.

Whiskers are also found on the rear of the front legs. These assist in tree climbing and during contact with prey.

Whiskers in Asian medicine:

Asian tradition has long held the erroneous belief that whiskers give courage to the wearer, prevent the pain of toothache, and are an aphrodisiac. Even today these traditions are firmly held by native peoples, who also carry tiger whiskers as charms to protect against bullets.

Not even preserved animals like the Smithsonian Institution's Bengal tiger is safe from these beliefs. Despite the whiskers on their display being only fibreglass, tourists continually remove them, either as souvenirs, or for use in traditional folk medicines. Maintenance on the tiger involves regular replacement of these lost whiskers.

Asian folk medicine presents an extreme danger to the tiger as a whole. Almost all parts of the big cat can be used in some form or another and poachers find hunting cheap and profitable. Though laws exist against tiger hunting, poachers are generally well armed and often better equipped than park rangers and law officials.

Whiskers - Page 1: Description | 2: Uses

 Taxonomy | Whiskers | Hearing & Ear Spots | Eyesight | Smell | Teeth | Communication | Flehman | Genetics |
Life Span | Streaking | Claws, Paws & Pug Marks | Skin & Coat | Gait | Tail | Cleanliness & Tongue |
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Photography With Thanks To Hans Stenström (Photo 1)
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