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Tigers are one of the strongest and most dangerous of all the big cats. It's important to remember that tigers are wild animals and even those raised by breeders and professional handlers have been known to bite in play or mistakenly in defense. If you are thinking of acquiring one as a pet, be aware that not everyone is suited to owning a tiger. There are many costs, regulations and a lot of work that goes with owning one. If you happen to change your mind, it is likely that a zoo will not adopt the tiger due to breeding and health restrictions and the cat may have to be euthanized.
Contact your state's wildlife agency to inquire about licensing requirements. You may also require a license to build the tiger's enclosure, so phone your city or county's government to inquire about local requirements. If the enclosure is approved by your state, you will need to contact the federal agency, the Animal and Plant Heath Inspection Service (APHIS). They will inspect the enclosure before deciding whether to approve your application. They will also require you to log vet visits and the details of the animal's diet and will inspect you yearly and on a surprise basis.
Find an exotic veterinarian who has knowledge of tigers. Their details will need to be passed onto APHIS before you are approved for a lisence. Tigers will require vaccinations and routine health checks throughout their lives.
Build your enclosure to be as large as you possibly can. The enclosure should measure between 500 and 1,000 square feet. The enclosure should be built of strong materials (plywood at least) and the surrounding fencing must be at least eight feet high. Also include two gates, one which closes behind the other. Interior fencing must be at least six feet high by U.S. law. The inside housing (known as a "denbox") must have a sliding door that leads to a separate room so you can lock the cat in when needing to clean its cage. The sliding door must be over a hole used to bait the tiger; it must also be easy to lock once the tiger is inside.
Feed the cub with milk if it is less than six weeks old. However, cubs should not be separated from their mothers this early except when the mother has died. The cub must be fed milk six times a day. A damp piece of cotton wool must then be rubbed on the tiger's genitals to encourage defecation. After six weeks, the cub can be weaned and given minced meat. It can eat meat on its own at three months and must eat five percent of its body weight daily and be given extra calcium. They prefer horse meat, which can be bought from speciali companies.
Put plenty of toys in the enclosure. Tigers are lively, intelligent animals that require a lot of stimulation. They enjoy water and should be given a pool to play in. Trees can be played in, climbed on and used for scratching. New smells and objects should be provided on a regular basis.
- tiger image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com