Are There Tigers In Japan?

Tigers are one of the coolest animals in the world! They are the largest cat species on the planet and unlike most other cats, they love to swim. Have you ever wondered where these animals live? Here, we will find out if they can be found on the island country of Japan and even more about these amazing animals. 

Do tigers live in Japan? Tigers are found in many countries in Asia, but Japan is not one of them. Larger subspecies of tigers (such as the Siberian tiger) live in parts of northern Asia and can be found in areas of China and Russia. Smaller subspecies of tigers (such as the Bengal tiger or the Indochinese tiger) can be found in warmer, southern Asian countries, such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, and Vietnam.

In these countries, tigers can be found in a vast variety of habitats. Some tigers prefer dry forests, while others can be found in tropical (or even flooded) forests. Still, some tigers live in cold, northern forests and enjoy the snow.  

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Did the tigers ever live in Japan? 

Today, Japan is an island country, but at one point, Japan was connected to the eastern part of the Asian continent. Japan was connected to the countries Korea and Sakhalin. It is believed that when Japan was connected to the Asian continent there was a type of tiger that lived there.

The Wanhsein tiger is a type of tiger that lived throughout the majority of Asia, including what is now Japan. This is the earliest known subspecies of tiger and they lived in the late Pleistocene era. This era began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. This was the last time that wild tigers would have been found living in Japan.  

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If tigers do not live in Japan, why are they so popular in Japanese art? 

In a lot of traditional Japanese artwork, you will see tigers. Why is that if they are not native to the country? Artists from the Kano art school were commissioned to paint these beautiful creatures to put up in the Nijo Castle which was the country’s capital at the time.

These artists had never seen tigers in real life, so they often made pictures of what looked like an oversized pet cat with stripes. This lead to the tigers being depicted in artwork to look more cuddly and cute than a wild tiger would.  


What animals live in Japan today? 

Since we know that tigers do not live in Japan, you may be curious as to what wildlife can be found in this country. Some predators that live in Japan are brown bears, Hokkaido red foxes, and spotted seals, as well as other animals that we commonly see here such as chipmunks, geese, turtles, owls, and deer.

Even though tigers do not live in Japan, the country is home to another wild cat- the Tsushima leopard cat. This cat was designated as a National Nature Monument in 1971 by the Japanese government, but sadly, this cat is endangered due to habitat loss. 

Japan is also home to some animals that can be found in no other parts of the world. The Japanese giant salamander is the second largest salamander in the world and it can grow to be up to five feet long and weigh up to 55 pounds.

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japanese giant salamander
Japanese giant salamander

The Japanese serow is a hoofed mammal and it is the only serow in the world that is not endangered. The Japanese macaque, also called snow monkeys, are native to three of the four main Japanese islands and they live further up north than any other macaque species.  

What do tigers eat in the wild? 

Tiger eating meat
Tiger eating meat

Tigers are carnivores which means that they are meat-eaters. Wild tigers will cautiously stalk their prey from behind before pouncing on it and biting it on its neck. Tigers can eat up to 88 pounds of meat at a time and will hunt other wild animals, such as moose, deer, pigs, cows, horses, buffaloes, bears, leopards, goats, wild dogs, and even elephants and rhinoceroses. It is estimated that tigers eat about one large animal a week.  

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Are there tigers in Japan?
Are there tigers in Japan?