Tigers are known for their majesty and strength. These big cats rightfully strike fear into the hearts of animals and humans that might encounter them. When it comes to comparing the strength of a tiger to that of a human, a tiger wins every time. In fact, they are one of the strongest creatures in the animal kingdom.
But how do they stack up against humans and other animals?
Tiger Bite Force: Anatomy of a Jaw
The bite force of a Bengal tiger can reach or exceed 1,050 PSI (pounds per square inch). To put this into perspective, the average human’s bite force is only about 120-160 PSI. So, a tiger’s bite is nearly 10 times greater than a human’s!
The muscles of a tiger’s jaw are attached to the sagittal crest on top of the skull. This attachment allows for more strength and grip when biting down. In contrast, a human’s jaw is connected to a muscle called the temporalis, which extends only across the side of the head above the jaw.
The speed in which the tiger’s jaws can close around prey contributes to its crushing force, which can break bones. A strong jaw in conjunction with the longest canine teeth found in cats creates a menacing work of art. Combine all of that jaw strength with sharp claws, agility, and a 500-pound/10-foot-long body and it becomes obvious why some cultures consider tigers the kings of all animals.
The tiger is also impressive when compared to its own kind. A lion’s bite force is around half that of a tiger’s, around 650 PSI, though adult males might reach 1,000 PSI. Jaguars, on the other hand, beat tigers and lions in bite strength with a PSI of around 1,500.
Now, what about non-felines? The bite of a gorilla is impressive, with some silverbacks measuring a bite force of 1,300 PSI. This could be due to their diet consisting mostly of very hard, fibrous plants. Since they are herbivores, they likely wouldn’t have the same advantage in tearing or gripping as carnivorous animals.
Hippos are other herbivorous animals that have a menacing bite. In fact, they have the strongest bite of all land animals at 1,820 PSI. Their massive heads and strong jaws generate the power needed to achieve such a lofty title.
Unfortunately, tigers cannot compete with aquatic animals, including the saltwater crocodile. The strongest recorded live bite was an insane measurement of 3,700 PSI. The crocodile that set this record was 17 feet long.
Bull sharks are also a high-ranking member on the list, with a bite force of around 1,350 PSI. Compare this to the great white, whose bite force could conceivably reach 4,000 PSI, and you might think you’re lucky if you get bit by a bull shark instead. However, the bite force of a great white shark varies widely based on the size of the animal. A PSI of 4,000 is the estimated maximum bite force that can be generated by this beast of the sea.
Another apex predator of the ocean is the orca, which has the strongest bite force of any animal, at 19,000 PSI! They can grow up to 27 feet in length and weigh over 13,000 pounds. Predators that large need to be able to take out prey that can feed their appetite and energy requirements. So, it makes sense for them to have an extremely powerful bite.
How Much Can a Tiger Carry?
Tigers have to rely on their jaws to carry their catches. On average, a tiger can carry twice their body weight. It wouldn’t be out of the question for a Bengal tiger to carry a 1,000-pound kill.
The average human should be able to carry about one-quarter of their body weight without difficulty, but going up to half their body weight drastically increases the chance of fatigue or injury. Doubling their body weight might not even be possible unless the individual is trained and very fit. For example, a 200-pound human male should easily be able to carry 50 pounds, while 100 pounds should also be fairly doable. But 400 pounds is likely impossible!
Summary of Bite Forces
|Bite Force (PSI)
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Glass and Nature/Shutterstock.com
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