Saber Tooth Tiger: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

One of the interesting saber tooth tiger facts is that they lived during the Pleistocene epoch or the Ice Age, and went extinct about 10,000 years ago.

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.

Learn more about some other mammals including the Pyrenean mastiff or the English foxhound here.

Saber Tooth Tiger

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Large mammals, bison, camels, woolly mammoths, broad-snouted caiman, bison, Platygonus, Hemiauchenia, other extinct animals

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

350-620 lb (160-280 kg)

How long are they?

79–98 in (2–2.5 m)

How tall are they?

3.6 ft (1.1 m)

What do they look like?

Brown and black

Skin Type


What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Forests and shrubland


North America, Europe, South America





Scientific Name

Smilodon populator, Smilodon fatalis, Smilodon gracilis





Saber Tooth Tiger Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a saber tooth tiger?

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.

Saber tooth tigers had short limbs and large canine teeth.
* Please note that this is an image of a lion, which scientists believe resembles the saber tooth tiger, not of a saber tooth tiger specifically. If you have an image of a saber tooth tiger, please let us know at

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.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable saber tooth tiger coloring pages.



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