Seeing spots…a Big Cat test

We’ve been through all the big cats now, and I just want to know one thing. Can you identify a big cat when you see one?

Let’s start with the fur. Take a look at all the fur samples below, and see if you can identify them all.  And just to refresh your memory, here are their names:





Clouded Leopard

Snow Leopard



If you can’t identify all of them, look below because I will give you a big hint to help you out!



Can you do it now?   Keep scrolling to see the answers.  Study them well, because my next post will present the actual cats for you to identify!

How many did you get?  Leave a comment and let me know!


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Maneless Lions and Man-Eaters

In certain climates, adult male lions delay growing a mane until they are much older; these lions are known as maneless lions. And strangely enough, three of the most notorious man-eating lions were maneless!

The largest man eating lion on record, measuring 5 feet from floor to ear tips and 10 feet 6 inches in length, was a maneless lion. Called the Man-Eater of Mfuwe, the lion killed six people in two months. It was shot in 1991 in Zambia.

Most famous, though, are the Ghosts of Tsavo. During a nine-month period in 1898, two maneless male lions killed between 35 and 145 men, taking them as they were building a railroad in Tsavo, Kenya. A fictionalized movie, The Ghost and the Darkness, was made of the story.

Maneless lions have been reported in Senegal and Tsavo East National Park in Kenya. The original white lion discovered in Timbavati was also maneless!

These three famous man-eaters are on display in The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

For more information on these man eaters, go here.

For more information about maneless lions, go here.

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The King!

The King of Beasts!   Most people can identify a male lion with no problem.

There are eight subspecies of lion, most of which live in Africa. A small number of Asiatic lions live in the Gir Forest in India.

There are also white lions living wild in Tambavati, though many zoos and circuses have them on display. White lions are not albino, but leucistic South Africa lions; their normal coat color is suppressed with the chinchilla gene, but their eyes are still gold-brown.

Lions are the only big cats that lives in groups, called prides. The pride can have up to forty members, most of which are females and cubs.

And that big lion mane? Lions are the only big cats where it is easy to tell the males from the females. And speaking of manes, let’s take a look at the different colors they can be:

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What is a black panther, anyway?

Black panthers are any member of the big cat family (roaring and non-roaring) that are born with an entirely black or very dark pelt. So a black panther isn’t a certain species of cat, but a color.

For example, a black panther in South America or Asia would be a black jaguar. In Africa and India, it would be a black leopard. If there were black cougars or tigers or lions or cheetahs (and some of these have been reported), those could also be called black panthers.

Let’s look at the most common black panthers, jaguars and leopards, below. Beautiful!

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YouTube – Eastern Cougar Declared Extinct

YouTube – Eastern Cougar Declared Extinct.

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Ligers, Tigons, and Bears, oh my!

Okay, not bears. Not today anyway! We are still exploring the big cats and since we’ve been discovering tigers, let me introduce you to the liger and the tigon!*

The liger and the tigon are half tiger and half lion. But to be a liger the mother has to be a tiger and the father has to be a lion.  The opposite is true of the tigon.  So what is the difference between the two?

Actually, there’s a BIG difference. And that difference includes size!  You remember that the largest big cat is the tiger, right? Well, a large tiger can weigh about 750 lbs.  A liger can weigh 1000 lbs.  Take a look at Hercules, above. The liger is the biggest big cat of all!

The tigon is more like a tiger in size and coloration.

But there’s more. The cubs of a tigon crossed with a tiger are known as ti-tigons. and and a lion/tigon cross is a li-tigon!  Want to know more? Here’s a great link to ti-tigons and li-ligers!

* Also known as tiglon and tion

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Big Cats and their pumpkins!


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Golden tabby tigers

So you thought tigers just came in orange/black and white/black?  There are actually rare tiger colors that are not as well-known.

The golden tabby, above, has dark orange stripes instead of black.

The black tiger has wider stripes and more black on its head and back.

And the blue tiger? A blue tiger cub was born at a zoo in Oklahoma, but died while young. There have been reports and descriptions of blue (Maltese) tigers in the wild, but not one has been captured!

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Tiger, tiger burning white….

The legendary white tiger.  The tiger of choice for Indian royalty. A rare cat stalking through the jungle…well, not so rare anymore.  There are several hundred around the world and their numbers are growing.  Why?  Zoos and animal attractions know they are a big hit with the public and so pursue selective breeding to create white tigers.

But white tigers are not albinos.  Even the whitest of the tigers, stripeless tigers, have a faint pattern of stripes. And did you know that their white fur changes with temperature? The color gets creamier when the air is cold!

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If you blink, they’ll be gone…

The largest cat in the world is the tiger.

There are six existing subspecies and three that are extinct. The remaining tigers are all in grave danger of extinction as well. Some predict that in ten years, all tigers will be extinct in the wild.

A tiger is easy to identify. Is it huge and striped?  It’s a tiger!

Here are the nine types of tigers. They all look pretty similar, but my next two posts will show you various colorations, some that I bet you never knew existed!

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