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5 Fun Facts: Sumatran Tigers

Updated: Feb 20

Sumatran tigers got their unique name because of their location. In the wild, they are only found on Sumatra, a large island off the coast of western Indonesia. They are completely separate from their “cousin” tigers on the mainland and have been for the past 10-12,000 years, due to the rise in sea level.

They are nocturnal animals, meaning they sleep most of the day and hunt at night. Most tigers will travel up to 20 miles at night in search of food. Since Sumatran tigers are smaller species, they can move more quickly through forests to find food.

Sumatran tigers have long whiskers that act as “feelers” to the environment around them. Their whiskers can sense nearby objects, which helps them to not run into trees, branches, or bushes at night.

When a female Sumatran tiger gives birth, she has one to six cubs. The cubs will stay with their mother for up to two years (which is the age they can hunt for themselves) before they leave and live on their own. Like all tiger species, the Sumatran tiger lives about 15 years in the wild.

An adult Sumatran tiger weighs 260 pounds on average and measures up to 8-feet long. They are the smallest of the tiger subspecies. Other species of tigers can weigh up to 660 pounds and can get up to 10-feet long.

I love animals and wanted to highlight different endangered species in my illustrated adventure book, Captain Pabbu and the Buried Treasure. One of these is the Sumatran Tiger. If you have the book, keep your eyes peeled, because it’s hiding in the background somewhere! Let me know in the comments where you find it!

Five Additional Fun Facts about the Sumatran Tiger:

  1. How to tell Sumatran Tigers from other tigers: Their stripes are closer together, their orange has more of a darker red color, and they have a mane and a beard!

  2. Webbing between their toes makes the Sumatran tiger an adept swimmer. (Kind of like duck feet!)

  3. Their main food is the wild boar, but they also eat deer, fish, monkeys, and even birds. They rely on their stripes as camouflage and use their body weight to knock their prey down.

  4. They can sprint almost 40 miles per hour.

  5. The white spots on the back of the Sumatran tiger's ears are called "eye spots" or "predator spots". These spots function as false eyes to make them look larger to any predator approaching from behind. This is particularly helpful for the small cubs.

The habitat of the Sumatran tiger is unprotected and decreasing quickly due to deforestation for palm oil, coffee, and acacia farms. It’s losing its home and the tiger is hunted ruthlessly by poachers for its teeth and mane, which in Indonesia is a symbol of status in society.

Sadly because of this, it’s estimated that there are only 400 Sumatran tigers remaining in the wild. They are now considered a Critically Endangered species, which means they are close to extinction.

In 2013, there were an estimated 375 tigers living in national parks, zoos, and other protected areas throughout Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand.

To support the Sumatran Tiger or other endangered species, find an organization to support or visit a zoo and donate to their survival funds. If interested, Fauna and Flora International is an organization that specifically strives to conserve endangered species on the island of Sumatra. Check out their website here.

Here’s to raising awareness about Sumatran Tigers!


Red Panda Books sells personalized children’s adventure books that encourage parents to read with their children and experience adventures together! A portion of the books’ proceeds will be donated to support the Red Panda Network and other organizations that protect endangered species and their habitats.

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