Why Do Tigers Have Stripes
Zoologists have long wondered why tigers have their unusual striped coat. Through the years people have come up with numerous theories and myths to explain the pattern. But the bottom line is that tiger stripes have probably developed because the pattern helps hide them and protect them in their natural environment. They have developed an effective camouflage. The pattern is actually part of the animal’s skin so it appears below the fur as well.
Tigers don’t need protection from other animals, though they do need protection from human beings. The striped-coat camouflage serves to hide them from prey. Since they live in areas where grasses grow very tall or in dense jungles with masses of undergrowth, the alternating stripes and solid colors help them blend in.
Research indicates that animals in the wild don’t see in color or if they do the colors are not vivid, as they are to human beings. If wild animals see in various levels of black, gray and white, the stripes on a tiger’s body probably appear as bars of shadow. The pattern seems to help hide the tiger’s body shape and size from the animals it is stalking.
Tigers are considered one of the best hunters in the animal world and the unique pattern of its coat may have a lot to do with this. Of course, the main factors are the tiger’s size, strength, claws, teeth and massive jaws. Add to this the speed, grace and remarkable intelligence of the cat and you have a near-perfect, deadly combination.