The saber tooth tiger (Smilodon populator, Smilodon gracilis, or Smilodon fatalis) is an extinct species of the family Felidae. It is also known as the saber tooth cat and by its collective genus Smilodon. Despite its name, it doesn't share relations to modern-day cats and tigers. Saber tooth tigers were alive during the Pleistocene epoch, also known as the Ice Age. These prehistoric animals get their name from the large, canine saber teeth they had, which grew close to 7 in (17.8 cm) in length. Their other lower canine teeth were smaller. They were large cats that hunted in packs and fed on large animals such as the woolly mammoth, the bison, and camels. They roamed lands that are presently North America, South America, and Europe. There are hundreds of fossils of the saber tooth tiger species at the La Brea Tar Pits in the American city of Los Angeles. It is believed that they went extinct close to 10,000 years ago due to climate change and loss of habitat.
Despite its name, the saber tooth tiger (Smilodon) was not a tiger or a cat. It was a machairodont.
What class of animal does a saber tooth tiger belong to?
The saber tooth tiger (Smilodon) belonged to the Mammalia class of animals
How many saber tooth tigers are there in the world?
There are no more saber tooth tigers (Smilodon) left in the world.
Where does a saber tooth tiger live?
Saber tooth tigers (Smilodon) lived in forests and shrublands.
What is a saber tooth tiger's habitat?
Saber tooth tigers (Smilodon) were big cats that lived and roamed freely in the forests and shrublands of what are today the continents of North and South America and Europe.
Who does a saber tooth tiger live with?
The saber tooth tiger lived and hunted in packs with others of its kind.
How long does a saber tooth tiger live?
Saber tooth tigers were big cats that lived for about 20-40 years.
How do they reproduce?
Saber-toothed cats (Smilodon) reproduced by mating and giving birth to live young ones. Male saber-toothed tigers are believed to have fought each other for mating rights with a female. The female saber-toothed cat could breed more than once in one season. They used to breed with a male, gestate for eight months, and give birth to three (usually) young ones.
What is their conservation status?
The conservation status of the saber-toothed tiger (Smilodon) is Extinct.
Saber Tooth Tiger Fun Facts
What do saber tooth tigers look like?
Saber tooth tigers (Smilodon) were 79–98 in (2–2.5 m) long and were 3.6 ft (1.1 m) tall on average. Despite being large animals, they had limbs that were short but very well developed. They are most notable for having had long canines, close to 7 in (17.8 cm) long. Unlike their outer canine teeth, their lower canines were smaller and their molar teeth were smooth. Fossils at La Brea Tar Pits have also led scientists to believe that saber tooth tigers resemble the African lions (Panthera leo) of today. They may also have had brown-colored coats, with possibly a darker stripe and spotted patterns. They also had short tails.
How cute are they?
Saber tooth tigers (Smilodon) were one of the biggest and most majestic creatures of the Ice Age. They had long canines and had roars louder than any modern cats. There is even a saber tooth tiger character in the 'Ice Age' movie franchise!
How do they communicate?
A saber-toothed cat (Smilodon) communicated with others of its pack via roaring, much like modern, big wild cat species. According to fossils, their wide gape could stretch to 120 degrees while roaring.
How big is a saber tooth tiger?
The average saber tooth tiger size was usually 79–98 in (2–2.5 m) long, and 3.6 ft (1.1 m) tall, which makes it between five and seven times bigger than a rusty-spotted cat.
How fast can a saber tooth tiger move?
Saber tooth tigers (Smilodon) could run at speeds of 25-31 mph (40-50 kph).
How much does a saber tooth tiger weigh?
On average, a saber tooth tiger (Smilodon) used to weigh between 350-620 lb (160-280 kg)
What are their male and female names of the species?
A male of the saber-toothed tiger species can be referred to as a 'tom' or 'tiger', whereas females can be referred to as a 'queen' or 'tigress'.
What would you call a baby saber tooth tiger?
A baby saber-toothed tiger (Smilodon) could be referred to as a 'kitten' or 'cub'.
What do they eat?
Saber-toothed tigers could eat a variety of other animals such as large mammals, camels, woolly mammoths, the broad-snouted caiman, the bison, the Platygonus, the Hemiauchenia, and other extinct animals. They usually hunted in packs.
Are they poisonous?
No, none of the saber-toothed tiger species, (Smilodon fatalis, Smilodon gracilis, or Smilodon populator) were poisonous.
Would they make a good pet?
There can be no saber-toothed tiger pets since they became extinct more than 10,000 years ago.
Did you know...
Saber tooth tigers were a species of Smilodon that were as big as or slightly larger than modern-day tigers. Siberian tigers are 30-42 in (75-107 cm) tall, whereas saber tooth tigers were 3.6 ft (1.1 m) tall. The length of a Siberian tiger ranges from 67-82 in (170-208 cm), whereas the saber tooth tiger was 79–98 in (2 – 2.5 m) in length. Tigers of today have much smaller canine teeth than the Smilodons' massive saber teeth.
Saber tooth tigers of old were one of the most dangerous predators, feeding on very large prehistoric animals, unlike today's lions that feed on smaller prey. However, a lion's bite is much stronger than the saber tooth tiger's, which is surprising considering its large canine teeth, which are now believed to be much weaker than first thought. However, with their massive frames and heavier bodies, a saber tooth tiger could easily take down a lion and use its canine teeth on the neck of the lion to defeat it. There is not much difference in their running speeds, but the Smilodon had very strong lower legs. The lion (Panthera leo) has a smaller frame, and lions have much smaller canine teeth. Therefore lions most probably would not win this fight.
Why is the saber tooth tiger extinct?
Saber tooth tigers may have gone extinct 10,000 years ago due to climate change and a scarcity of available prey that had already gone extinct.
When did the saber tooth tiger live?
Saber tooth tigers are prehistoric creatures that inhabited the earth from 56 million years ago to 11,700 years ago, during the Pleistocene Epoch. They became extinct after that.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our American leopard hound facts and silken windhound facts pages.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.
We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.
Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.
We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.