Among the prehistoric animals, the Saber Tooth Tiger is very famous. Kids love saber tooth tigers and are very curious about them. We have gathered a lot of Saber Tooth Tiger Facts For Kids and have answered almost all the questions that you may wonder about this amazing prehistoric animal. You are going to learn all about saber tooth tigers here at Kidz Feed including their scientific name, appearance, classification, characteristics, habitat, diet, prey, species, size, weight, hunting, behavior, adaptations, and many other interesting facts about saber tooth tigers. It will be very helpful for those who have a school assignment on the Saber Tooth Tiger.
Saber Tooth Tiger Facts For Kids
What is a Saber Tooth Tiger
- In short, Saber Tooth Tiger is a prehistoric carnivorous mammal, with distinctive pair of long razor-sharp canine teeth, that got extinct at the end of the Ice Age some 10,000 years ago.
- It is very popular among prehistoric animals due to its fascinating looks and its elongated sword-shaped canine teeth.
- It was found in North and South America.
- It existed between the Eocene and the Pleistocene period which ranges from 55 million years to 10,000 years ago.
- It was the primary predator in the woodlands and grasslands.
- Previous studies of fossils suggest that it became extinct mainly due to lack of food which was caused by climate change. Climate change caused plant extinction which resulted in the extinction of herbivores (animals that eat plants) and ultimately it caused the Saber Tooth Tiger extinction as there were no more herbivores to hunt for food.
- Recent studies on fossils deny the above reason for extinction but do not provide any new theory on saber tooth tiger extinction.
The Saber Tooth Tiger is also called the saber-toothed lion or saber-toothed cat but in reality, it is not a tiger or a lion or even close to the cats that we have today. It belongs to an extinct subfamily of the cat family (Felidae) which is called Machairodontinae.
Scientific Name for Saber Tooth Tiger
- The scientific name for Saber Tooth Tiger is “Smilodon” which means tooth like a double edge knife.
Saber Tooth Tiger Classification
- The Saber Tooth Tiger has been named after its long and sharp Canines.
- Its two long canines could grow up to 20 cm or 8 inches, which helped in cutting and stabbing its prey.
- The lower canines were smaller in size and the molar teeth were smooth and resembled the modern-day shearing blades.
- Its jaw could open up to an angle of 90 degrees to use the long teeth for hunting purposes. This gape is much larger than the modern cats.
- Its neck had strong muscles to bring down the heads of large prey.
- Its limbs were short but very well developed for hunting.
- The fully grown Saber Tooth Tiger size was about that of a modern-day African Lion (Panthera Leo).
- The smallest species, S. gracilis found in North America weighed 55 to 100 kg. And the largest species from South America, S. populator weighed 220 to 400 kg.
- The coat color pattern of the Saber Tooth Tiger is yet unknown.
Saber Tooth Tiger Characteristics
- The body length of the Saber Tooth Tiger was 175 cm from nose to rump.
- The height of its shoulders was up to 100 cm.
- Its tail grew up to a length of 35 cm.
- It had a large head with two long canine teeth in the upper jaw. These teeth could grow up to be 20 cm long.
- The canines grew up to their full size three years after birth.
- Physically, the Saber Tooth Tiger was similar to the modern Lion in size, but it was more robust with shorter limbs.
- The weights of different species of the Saber Tooth tigers ranged from 55 to 400 kg. Which means it was the largest cat to live on earth.
- The running speed of the Saber Tooth Tiger is not accurately known. However, as it was a heavy cat, it was slower than the Lion and Tiger. Its top speed was about 25 to 30 mph.
- The average lifespan of a Saber Tooth Tiger is unknown.
Where did the Saber Tooth Tiger live
- The Saber Tooth Tiger lived in North America and Europe during the Miocene and Pliocene Epoch (23 million to 2.6 million years ago).
- They spread to Asia and Africa after Pliocene Epoch.
- Some Saber Tooth Tigers moved to South America during the Pleistocene Epoch (2.5 million to 10,000 years ago).
Saber Tooth Tiger Habitat
- The Saber Tooth Tiger lived in areas where plant-eating animals lived.
- These areas include pine forests, shrubby areas, and grasslands.
Learn more about its Habitat: Saber Tooth Tiger Habitat
Saber Tooth Tiger Diet
- The Saber Tooth Tiger was a carnivore (meat-eater).
- It ate any meat it could find. But it mostly hunted herbivores (grass-eaters).
Learn more: What did Saber Tooth Tigers Eat
Saber Tooth Tiger Prey
- Mostly, the Saber Tooth Tiger hunted herbivores.
- It might have hunted Horses, Bison, and Mastodons (extinct hairy elephants).
Here is a complete list of prey: Saber Tooth Tiger Diet
Saber Tooth Tiger Timeline
- Three different species of the Saber Tooth Tiger existed between 2.5 million and 10,000 years ago.
Smilodon Species – Saber Tooth Tiger Species
- The Saber Tooth Tiger has three species:
1. Smilodon fatalis
2. Smilodon gracilis
3. Smilodon populator
- S. gracilies was the smallest among the species, while S. populator was the largest.
- The main difference between these species was weight and size.
Saber Tooth Tiger Size – Saber Tooth Cat Size – Smilodon Size
- Different species of the Saber Tooth tigers came in different sizes.
- Following are the different species with their weights and sizes from smallest to largest:
- Specie: S. gracilis
- Weight : 55 to 100 kg
- Height: Unknown
- Specie: S. fatalis
- Weight : 160 to 280 kg
- Height : 100 cm
- Specie: S. populator
- Weight : 220 to 400 kg
- Height : 120 cm
- Specie: S. gracilis
Learn more: How big was a Saber Tooth Tiger
Saber Tooth Tiger Size Comparison – How Big was a Saber Tooth Tiger
- The Saber Tooth Tiger was the size of the modern African Lion (Panthera Leo) and Tiger. However, the Smilodon had a stronger build than the modern cats.
- Compared to humans, the Saber Tooth Tiger had more weight but was shorter in height.
How did Saber Tooth Tigers Hunt
- Saber Tooth Tigers hunted in packs like modern lions.
- However, the Saber Tooth Tiger had different killing techniques than modern cats.
- It used to wrestle large prey to the ground by using its claws and forelimbs, then ripped open its throat using the large canines to kill it instantly.
- It could only hunt large herbivores because it didn’t have the agility to chase small animals like deer and antelope. So, it preferred ambushing its prey.
Saber Tooth Tiger Behavior
- The Saber Tooth tiger lived and hunted in packs. This ensured that they had food even when they were ill, injured, or old. Other members of the pack used to share food with the affected member.
- Just like modern lions, the saber tooth tigers hunted animals in the group by trapping them.
- There were no visible differences in behavior and appearance between the male and female saber tooth tigers.
- Smilodon was the top predator in its habitat.
- The availability of prey was equal to or greater than the prey availability today in East Africa.
- Near the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, Smilodon and other carnivores often broke their teeth indicating intense competition in hunting and eating the prey to their bones.
- As the Smilodon couldn’t crush bone, they could have been associated with bone-crushing hyenas.
Saber Tooth Tiger Adaptations
- The Saber Tooth Tiger had a bob-tail which suggests that it used to ambush its prey instead of chasing it like modern Lions and Tigers.
- It had 20 cm long canine teeth which had an oval cross-section that could be used as knives. They were useful for slicing meat but also fragile. They could easily break while hunting. They could also be used for social display as horns.
- Its killing behavior determines that its bite wasn’t as strong as a modern lion. That is why they wrestled the prey to the ground before delivering the killing bite with their sharp canines. However, it is unknown how the finishing bite was delivered.
- About social behavior, it has been discovered that the Saber Tooth Tiger was a social animal and used to hunt in packs. Fossils have shown evidence of regrowth and healing, which suggests they lived for a long time after getting injured. Other members of the pack brought food for the injured Smilodon. However, it has been discovered they were also not very peaceful. Sometimes, they fought among themselves for food or mates like modern lions.
Saber Tooth Tiger Extinction
The Saber Tooth Tiger went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch (12,000 years ago). The exact cause of their extinction has not been determined precisely and there are two different theories explaining different reasons for their extinction.
- Some researchers suggest that the root cause of the extinction of the Smilodon is the lack of prey. After the large herbivores went extinct at the end of the Ice Age, the Saber Tooth Tiger also went extinct due to the unavailability of food.
- Other researchers suggest that the Saber Tooth Tiger had a decent amount of food available to live. However, they went extinct as a result of humans hunting them, damaging their habitat, or climate change.
Read more: Why did the Saber Tooth Tiger Go Extinct
Interesting Saber Tooth Tiger Facts
- When compared to Lion, the Sabertooth tiger was shorter in size and heavier in weight.
- Its length was around 79 to 98 inches and its weight was from 150 to 661 pounds.
- Sabertooth tiger has the word tiger in its name but it was not a tiger. It is not even closely related to modern-day cats such as lions, leopards, cheetah, and tigers.
- Their coat was thick and similar in color to that of a lion.
- The growth of canine teeth of saber tooth tiger was two times faster than the cats that are alive today. The fully grown canine teeth were attained at the age of three years.
- It used its canine teeth to cut the jugular vein of its prey.
- The bite force of a saber tooth tiger was three times less than that of a modern lion.
- Saber-toothed tigers used to ambush their prey instead of chasing it.
- Due to the presence of hyoid bone in their mouth, they were able to roar.
- Sabertooth tigers most probably mated in the Spring season. The pregnancy period was around 8 months.
- The cubs were born blind and helpless similar to that of modern-day cats.
- The estimated lifespan of the saber tooth tiger ranges from 20 to 40 years.