Water Play

Water - Page 1: Powerful Swimmers | 2: Cubs

Powerful swimmers:

These cats are powerful swimmers and along with the jaguar are quite at home in the water. They can easily cross rivers 6-8 kms wide and have even been known to swim distances of up to 29 km.

In southeast Asia tigers are semi-aquatic, spending much of their time in rivers or swamps and feeding on fish or turtles. Some zoologists believe that the tiger swam the channel between Java and Bali to colonise the latter island. Both of the subspecies which used to occupy these islands are now considered extinct.

Keeping cool:

Drenching and drying keeps tigers cool during the hottest part of the day. They follow a pattern of soaking for about an hour, then returning to dry land where the winds have a cooling effect on the wet body. As the benefits start to wear off they once more return for another cooling soak.

Tigers may love water, but they do not like to get it in their eyes and will frequently enter backwards to ensure this doesn't happen. When emerging they'll often shake like a dog to remove the worst of the water from their coats.

Man-eaters, water salinity and liver damage:

Even a swiftly flowing current will not discourage this big cat, and people in boats make quite easy pickings for a determined man-eater.

The tiger appears to prefer bathing in fresh water and it is thought the ingestion of saltwater may cause liver damage. This has been put forward as one reason for the high number of man-eaters in the Sundarbans where the water is very salty. As a result a programme is in place to provide fresh drinking and bathing water.

Experts have yet to establish quite how salty water would turn tigers into man-eaters and this is only one theory being followed up on the man-eating tigers of this area. It has been suggested that long term drinking of saline water causes a form of craziness, but there is, as yet, no proof of this and the idea does not seem very sound.

Water - Page 1: Powerful Swimmers | 2: Cubs

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Photography With Thanks To Rick Hobson (Photo 1)
Kevin Borden (Photo 2)

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