Tree Climbing


Tiger cubs willingly climb trees for about the first sixteen months of life and young tigers have been sighted following langur monkeys up into the trees in an effort to secure a feed. But after this age their increasing weight makes both ascent and descent difficult, and few tree branches have the needed strength to hold their weight.


Adults seldom climb, 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.  

This does not mean tigers are willing or efficient climbers. On the contrary, they are not. The white Bengal and Amur tigers shown here are doing something quite unusual for tigers of their age.

Compare the tiger to what is the widest-ranging big cat, the leopard.

The leopard - an arboreal cat:

Leopards can:

    •  Climb trees swiftly and come down head first.
    • Carry prey 3 times their own weight into the branches.
    • Cling to the bark of a tree, simply hanging in the one spot.
    • They then have the enormous muscle power required to propel themselves up and into the branches.
    The tiger - a terrestrial cat:

    Tigers are essentially terrestrial animals which confine climbing to their juvenile years:

      • They are very clumsy when aloft.
      • Despite their incredible muscle power tigers need to enter a tree at a run, being unable to simply pull themselves up in the manner used by leopards.
      • They may get stuck in trees. Not being climbers by nature, it takes them time to learn the best way to descend is backwards.
      • Usually find that though claws make tree climbing possible, their angle also makes the descent an awkward job. 

      (Continued Page 2) 

Mating | Early Days | Raising Cubs | Hunting & Captive Feeding | Water Play | Sleeping | Tree Climbing
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Photography With Thanks To Shirley Cutis (Photo 1)
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