White Tigers (Genetics, Health, Facts and Numbers)

White Tigers

White tigers are incredibly beautiful and popular, but not much is known about them by the general public. Read on to discover what exactly they are, where they come from, whether or not they have albinism and other details about them.

White tigers are Bengal tigers that have a very rare recessive gene that controls coat color and is passed on from their parents. Over the past couple of decades, the number of white tigers in the world has sharply reduced due to capture for the exotic pet trade and trophy hunting, with there having been no recorded sightings of these animals for the past 50 years. Today, the white tiger can be found in a handful of animal sanctuaries, private collections, and zoos in the world.

Are White Tigers a Mutation?

White tigers are not a separate subspecies. White fur in these tigers is a very rare genetic mutation. White tigers have two copies of a recessive gene that controls the color of their coats. Researchers have found that white tigers result from a single gene mutation in the protein known as SLC45A2. This rare genetic mutation is referred to as leucism. If two golden tigers that have the gene mate, sometimes a white tiger will be born, but this is rare. If one or both of the mating tigers have white fur, the odds improve.

Do White Tigers Have Albinism?

White tigers are neither albinos nor sub-species of tiger, but are simply Bengal tigers that result from the breeding of parents that carry the recessive gene that controls coat color.

Are White Tigers Healthy?

Because of the rarity of the gene mutation that causes leucism in tigers, the only way to produce a white tiger is through inbreeding of father to daughter, mother to son; generation after generation.

This kind of severe inbreeding causes several health defects in white tigers. Many of these animals have immune deficiency, cleft palates, scoliosis of the spine, crossed eyes that bulge from the skull, club feet, defective organs, shortened tendons, and mental impairments.

Due to these profound birth defects, white tigers often die an early death. According to Big Cat Rescue, only 1 in 4 tiger cubs will be born white, and of those, 80% die from the birth defects associated with inbreeding.

Are All White Tigers Cross-eyed?

All white tigers are cross-eyed, whether it is evident or not. This is because the gene that causes the white fur also causes the optic nerve to be wired to the wrong side of the brain. As a result, white tigers have trouble with vision and depth perception.

Can White Tigers Live in the Wild?

Over the centuries, there were reports of white tiger sightings in India. The last one that was reportedly seen in the wild was killed in 1958. The fact that no white tiger has been spotted since suggests that they either have trouble surviving in the wild (perhaps because they lack camouflage), or that they are very rarely born, or both.

Why White Tigers are Very Rare?

White tigers are especially rare in the wild (there as few as 1 in 10,000 births in the wild) because normal tiger behavior in the wild prevents the kind of inbreeding that is necessary to produce cubs with white fur.

Do White Tigers Hibernate?

White tigers don’t hibernate. Instead, they remain active and hunt other animals that also don’t hibernate.

Do White Tigers Have Blue Eyes?

White tigers have blue eyes rather than the yellow or green-colored eyes of normal Bengal tigers. This is because they have no pigment in the eyes, which makes them appear pale blue.

Do White Tigers Live in Groups or Alone?

Like other tigers, the white tiger is a solitary animal. It lives in its territory of about 10 to 30 square miles. Mothers and their cubs will live together until the offspring reach maturity. As individuals, tigers roam across large areas, the size of which is determined by the availability of food.

Where Do White Tigers Live?

When white tigers existed in the wild, they lived in the same habitat as that of the Bengal tigers. Its habitat and home range depended on what it hunted and ate in the wild. The main habitat of the white tiger consisted of the parts of the jungle where food, waters, and trees were readily available.

Historically, tigers have lived in a variety of habitats, including tropical forests, moist jungles, and mangrove forests.

How Many White Tigers are Left in the World?

According to the Indian Tiger Welfare Society, the current population of white tigers in the wild is around 200. Currently, no white tigers are living in the wild. This means that all the surviving felines live in zoos and sanctuaries.

Which Country Has the Most White Tigers?

White tigers used to live in the wild in Asia, particularly in India. Today, many of them can be found living in the country in captivity.

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