Big cats vs. Bears

How would a lion or tiger fare against a grizzly bear or polar bear?

The Grizzly bear would win… if he is prepared.

This will get moved to IMHO pretty quickly but in the meantime:

Let’s look at the basic stats:

Siberian Tiger (biggest of the tigers): 600 pounds and around 10 feet long (I am assuming them at their biggest here so this would be for a large male).

Asiatic Lion: 550 pounds and around 8 feet long

Polar Bear: 1,300 pounds and around 10 feet long and 3-4 feet at the shoulder (largest ever found was 2,200 pounds and 12 feet long).

Kodiak Bear: 1,500 pounds and five feet high at shoulder (I couldn’t find length info).

From this I would say the bear has the cats beat as they are double the body weight (which would equate to overall strength and durability). I would imagine the cats to be more agile than the bear but don’t let the bear’s plodding fool you…they are very fast and agile as well when need arises. Further the bears have a thicker coat which would likely afford some protection from the teeth and claws of the cat.

That said I doubt these two would ever tangle as they’d both realize it’d be a losing proposition. Even if the bear won it would almost certainly be injured…probably badly. Both cat and bear prefer meals that don’t fight back.

I just read on another web site that Kodiak bears (by far the largest of the brown bear family) are the ‘largest’ bear in the world as far as dimensions go but the polar bear is the heaviest of the bears. Either way they are freaking huge carnivores. I saw a show on the making of the movie The Edge and the trained bear they used for it. Standing on all fours it was able to nearly look its handler in the eye. Playing the bears mouth was able to go around the handler’s head. Standing up the thing was 12 feet tall (for perspective two six foot tall men with one standing on the other’s shoulders could just look the bear level in the eye). The big cats are certainly very big and fearsome animals but that bear was in a size class by itself. They count as the world’s largest land based carnivores.

So let’s say you have a Kodiak brown and a Siberian tiger at the same weight and maturity? Who wins in a cage match?

Generally, big bears and big cats don’t occupy the same range but their territories appear to overlap in Siberia. How did this come about, and do these giant carnivores compete for the same ecological niche?

Off Topic

And why no tigers in New Guinea or Borneo? Is it just because they couldn’t swim that far?

What about a liger or tigon, aren’t they supposed to be larger then both species?

None in New Guinea because it’s on the wrong side of Wallace’s line ( separating Lombok from Bali and Sulawesi from Borneo ) - It belongs to a separate tectonic plate. Indonesia consists of two geologic halves that were never physically linked.

There used to be tigers on Borneo, which like Java, Sumatra, and Bali were once contiguous with the Asian mainland and each other when the sea level was lower. Tigers spread overland on landbridges, they didn’t swim to islands. By ~2 million years ago they were on what is now Java. But somewhere in the late pleistocene or afterwards they died off in Borneo.

Ligers tend to suffer from gigantism and are generally bigger than their parents. Tigons ( much rarer ) are the reverse - they tend to suffer from dwarfism and are smaller than their parents.

  • Tamerlane

Liger page with pics… that’s a big kitty. Although the page also says they’re rather docile compared to normal lions/tigers.

Little blurb on Wallace’s Line, with a map:

  • Tamerlane

How about a tiger bunny?

Actually they aren’t carnivores, they’re omnivores, usually preferring food they don’t have to chase at all.

This gives the bear another edge in fighting because an injured herbi/omnivore can still eat, while an injured carnivore cannot. The lion/tiger has alot more to lose by trying to show who’s ass is the shiniest.

Excellent thread. I’ve been having the tiger vs grizzly debate with a friend of mine for the past 8 years, with neither of us prepared to back down. I favour the tiger, if it gets first strike.

The reason: though the bears are freaking HUGE and heavy, the tiger’s claws are easily long enough to rip through the bear’s fat layer. I saw teeth and claws in a museum, and they’re getting on for 6" for claw length, and 10" for tooth length. And they’re shaped like sabers. I also saw a fresh Bengal tiger kill up close in Chitwan park in Nepal (kinda scary - our guide said “fresh kill. The tiger never stays more than 10 metres from kill after its first meal. Oh my God, RUN” - and then climbed up a tree). One swipe of one claw was all it had taken to completely eviscerate a water buffalo. I reckon that if it gets first strike, it could give a bear a mortal wound, and then use its greater speed and agility to retreat to a safe distance while the bear bled to death. I also remember reading an article about a tiger that had killed an Asiatic brown bear in a Siberian forest.

However, if the bear managed to get a good swinging swipe in first, especially on the head, it’d probably be curtains for Tigger.

Well, they’re in the order Carnivora, so technically Whack-a-mole is correct ;). But yeah, for a good part of the year Kodiak Bears eat grass, berries, grubs, and the occasional unlucky rodent or carrion. Then of course there is salmon season, when it’s salmon, salmon, and more salmon.

Polar Bears on the other hand, who rival Kodiak Bears in size, are* pretty much pure carnivores.

  • Tamerlane

jjimm are you sure you weren’t looking at saber-tooth tiger equipment? You can buy tiger teeth and claws and the teeth are only about 5 inches long, half of which is the root of the tooth. Claws tend to run about 1 to 2 inches. While I’ve never skinned a grizzly, I’ve skinned my share of black bears, and those can have a fat layer of 6 inches easily.

Cats tend to kill by suffocating their prey, clamping down on the muzzle or the throat. Bears tend to kill by brute force, tearing and smashing. I think that while a bear would most likely not be feeling too good afterwards, a cat wouldn’t stand a chance. Take away a bears weapons and the strength advantage alone puts the bear on top. I watched a documentary once where one kick from a zebra killed a lion. Even a bear has a tough time killing another bear.

Well…Tamerlane saved me in the technical sense but if it helps replace ‘carnivore’ with ‘predator’.

Turbo Dog, definitely bengal tiger. However, it was a long time ago, so my memory may have exaggerated their size.