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Desert Tigers

"They Have a Rare Beauty"

- Human Poacher

Appearance: The Desert Tiger is a large saber-tooth desert cat. Most stand around four feet and are sandy color with dark brown stripes. Unlike normal tigers the stripes are only on the back and tail ... usually leaving the face bare of markings. A few individual Desert Tigers may be white ... white tigers are actually albinos and very rare. They have longer ears then normal tigers to help regulate body temperature. The tiger is one of the most magnificent and imposing of animals. It has a powerful muscular body with big paws and large, curved claws which help to make it the perfect hunter. The claws are retractile, that is, they can be pulled into the paw.

The tiger's large head, piercing yellow eyes, and long, sharp saber-teeth set in wide cheekbones give it a formidable appearance. Tigers have a wide thick tails that can be used like clubs against prey and attackers. They have a slick course fur, for the warm seasons. And an added soft downy under coat in the cold season.

Behavior: "The cat that hunts alone"

Desert Tigers are usually solitary animals except when breeding, when a female is rearing cubs, or when a group of young ones stay together for a short while after their mother has left them to fend for themselves.

Male tigers have territories which they fiercely defend against other males. These territories could also cover the home ranges of several females. Both males and females mark the boundaries of their areas by spraying a mixture of urine and scent on the trees, bushes and grass. Claw marking of tree trunks is also a way of marking boundaries.

Once a tiger selects its territory, it spends most of its time in the center of the area and returns to it after a hunting expedition. Hunting territories are well separated so there is enough distance between individual tigers. Space is very important. It reduces the frequency of fights between males competing for females.

Their normal prey are stripe-deer, runners, boars, ravvits and have been known to attack Sand Cobras. They will for the most part avoid elves and humans unless they feel threatened. Very few have found their way as bond beasts to the elves. More of mutual consent then actually bonding.

Breeding Habits: Tigers can breed at any time of year, but they usually mate in winter or spring. The mating period lasts 20 to 30 days. If a female does not find a mate at the right time, she may come on heat again later. A tigress bears cubs only every four-five years.

Normally, two to four cubs are born after a gestation period of about 113 days. On rare occasions a tigress may produce as many as six cubs, but the chances of all surviving are slim. A newborn cub is born blind and eyes usually open by the tenth day. Milk teeth appear after two weeks.

During its first eight weeks, the cubs drink their mother's milk though the tigress continues to feed them on meat for five to six months. The mother usually brings up the cubs single-handedly. The father takes no responsibility in the rearing of the young ones.

When the cubs are two months old, the mother brings them out of the den. The cubs are playful, adventurous, and curious about the world around them. The tigress has now to provide not only for herself but also for the young ones. When she hunts, she takes care not to leave the cubs alone for too long. At first, she brings them small prey animals. After six months the cubs are old enough to be left alone for several days. The young tigers begin hunting alone when they are 11 months old.

Life Span: 30 to 40 years in the wild ... up to sixty years in captivity. They are prized by humans for their pelts and heads for trophies. The elves for the most part try to respect them and leave the mighty kings of the desert in peace.