Fun Saber-toothed Cat Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 10, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Saber-toothed cat facts are informative.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.4 Min

With deadly sharp canine teeth called the saber teeth, saber-toothed cats were a frightening species of carnivorous large cats. They resembled the size of present-day lions.

There are few species of saber-toothed cat but smilodon, known also as the saber-toothed tiger is the most famous among all and are called the true cats.

The smilodon or the saber-toothed tiger is one of the most recent saber teeth animals to have existed.

The saber-toothed cat survived millions of years ago, from the Miocene to the Pleiocene when the living conditions were far different from what we experience in the modern world. These extinct animals have left hundreds of remains in the La Brea Tar Pits of California.

They were aggressive carnivorous animals who could open their jaw at a 30-degree angle and a large part of their diet included herbivore mammals of their period like elephants, rhinos, bison, deer, and more. This saber-toothed cat prehistoric animal is a reserve of our natural history and their remains are preserved in many museums.

You can go through this fascinating saber-toothed cat info to gather more knowledge about the animal.

Check out the articles on Siberian tiger and South China tiger facts too.

Saber-Toothed Cat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a saber-toothed cat?

A saber-toothed cat, like a smilodon, is a dangerous and large cat-like animal that existed from the era of the ice age. Their size resembles the size of lions rather than the size of modern cats.

What class of animal does a saber-toothed cat belong to?

The saber-toothed cat or the smilodon knew popularly as the saber-toothed tiger belonged to the class mammal or Mammalia.

How many saber-toothed cats are there in the world?

All the species of saber-toothed cats including smilodon went extinct thousands of years ago. They existed for many years covering the ice age period. They are a group of dangerous pre-historic mammals whose fossils have been discovered by scientists. La Brea Tar Pits of Los Angeles has the highest number of smilodon fossils.

Where does a saber-toothed cat live?

By studying the pattern of distribution of the saber-toothed cat fossils, scientists have summarised their main places of existence. They lived in an extensive area, covering coast to coast in both the Americas and ranging from Canada in the north to the Andes Mountain Range.

Many a saber-toothed cat fossil has been discovered from California and Florida. La Brea of California holds the largest number of fossils.

Smilodon or the saber-toothed tiger remains have also been found in sediments of a sinkhole at the Harrodsburg Crevice site in Monroe County, Indiana. The latest smilodon was seen in Tennesse on the banks of Nashville.

What is a saber-toothed cat's habitat?

The most recent and informative species of the family of saber-toothed cat is smilodon also called the saber-toothed tiger that lived around 10,000 years ago. From their fossils, it can be assumed that they lived in closed habitats such as bush or forests.

They were present throughout the continents of America. In North American parts, their habitat varied from treeless mammoth steppes of the northern areas to the subtropical forests and the savannah grasslands in the southern parts.

The northernmost areas where the remains of the animal have been recorded are Canada and Alberta.

Fossils of some other species of the saber-toothed cats like Xenosmilus and Homotherium are also found in parts of North America. During the early Pleistocene epoch, S. Gracilis entered South America which later gave rise to the S. Populator.

S. fatalis also began to enter western parts of South America in the Pleistocene. There both the species began to exist side by side, sharing the woodlands and prairies of the area.

Who do saber-toothed cats live with?

Saber-toothed cats, unlike the modern cats and tigers who are solitary hunters, lived in packs consisting of few members. Their social structure is assumed to resemble the social structure of present-day lions.

How long does a saber-toothed cat live?

From the remains that are available, research and studies have shown that the average lifespan of a saber-toothed cat ranged from 20-40 years.

How do they reproduce?

All species of saber-toothed cats reproduced in a way similar to modern mammals. These large cats gave birth to offspring after getting the females impregnated. A saber-toothed cat was capable of giving birth to three babies on average at once but the saber-toothed cat gestation period is unknown.

What is their conservation status?

The saber-toothed cats have gone extinct about 10,000 years ago. They are believed to have existed almost throughout the world from the Eocene epoch to the end of the Pleistocene epoch. They lived for a range of 42 million years - 10,000 years.

The species went extinct probably due to gradual degenerative diseases. Fossils have been found all over the Americas and in parts of Europe. A trend in their extinction shows that saber-toothed cats went extinct shortly after one of their prey called mastodon became extinct.

Saber-Toothed Cat Fun Facts

What do saber-toothed cats look like?

Saber-toothed cats including smilodon or the saber-toothed tiger and the other species as well had a plain light brown coat with dark brown spots over it. Those who lived in the open had fewer spots than those living in the vegetative habitats.

Information about some unusual features like the stripes and body hair could not be deduced from the fossils or the remains. The maxillary canine teeth extended from the upper jaw of these predators.

They were of saber shape so they have the name saber teeth. They had a robust body with a reduced lumbar region.

Their limbs were broad with short feet and strong claws to hold their prey strongly. The saber teeth in smilodon or the saber-toothed tiger were the longest found in all species.

S. Gracilis was the smallest animal related to the saber-toothed animals' group that was similar to the size of a jaguar. The size of a smilodon fatalis was between a smilodon populator and a smilodon gracilis.

Their muscles and limbs were more muscular and robust than lions. The structure of the hyoid bone in smilodon suggests that it had the capability to roar.

Another saber-toothed cat belonging to the true saber-toothed cat family was Hoplophoneus. These animals had a different jaw structure where their saber teeth canines fitted into the expanded portion of the lower jaw.

This was not the case for smilodon. This related animal was a bit smaller in size than the saber-toothed tiger.

Saber-toothed Cat has the most similarity with the modern day lion.

*This is an image of a lion, a modern-day cat that is most similar to a saber-toothed cat.

How cute are they?

Saber-toothed cats are not traditionally cute looking. They look like intelligent wild animals always looking for a scope to find their next prey. Their skills of preying and surviving for such a long range of time from the pre-historic period show how strong the personality these animals had was and how scary they were.

How do they communicate?

Saber-toothed cats' remains show that they had the capability to roar. So roaring was an important communicating device in saber-toothed cats.

How big is a saber-toothed cat?

Among all the species of the saber-toothed cat, smilodon is the most recently extinct one and scientists consider their height and length as the saber-toothed cat size. The length of a smilodon from the snout to the rump was about 69 in (175 cm).

They had a long tail of 14 in (35 cm). The saber-toothed cat height measured at the shoulder was around 39 in (100 cm). Their built somehow resembles the built of present-day lions.

How fast can a saber-toothed cat run?

Saber-toothed cats are mammals of huge build. As a result of which they were not very fast runners. Rather their intelligent tactics helped them to evolve as successful predators. It is assumed that their speed varied between 35-56 mph.

How much does a saber-toothed cat weigh?

The saber-toothed cat mass, that is the weight of the saber-toothed cat representative species, smilodon, varied from 353-617 lb (160-280 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no distinctive names for the males and the females. They are collectively called saber-toothed cats. However, there are some common names like smilodon is known as a saber-toothed tiger.

What would you call a baby saber-toothed cat?

A baby saber-toothed cat does not have any specific name assigned to them.

What do they eat?

Saber-toothed cats were carnivorous in nature. The large canine teeth are an adaptation of them to attack large mammals which were their source of prey.

Smilodon of the saber-toothed tiger was mostly fond of deer, bison, and camels as their source of food. They may have also targeted glyptodonts as their prey. As the cats moved southwards, some differences were noticed in their preference for food.

Bison were absent from their prey list, instead, scientists found horses, proboscideans in their diet. This change in their diet was probably due to the differences in the availability of food in different parts of the world.

Are they dangerous?

Saber-toothed cats were a predatory group of mammals with sharp teeth and strong jaws. They hunted in the wild for food. Their prey included big strong herbivorous animals. This shows how aggressive and strong these animals were. They also had a robust body structure and large neck muscles that fueled these animals' ability to prey.

Would they make a good pet?

Saber-toothed cats were meat-eating carnivores who belonged in the wild. Their behavior is related to present-day lions and tigers. They have sharp canine teeth and humans can also fall prey to them.

They were very dangerous animals and their aggression could lead to severe damage. However, thousands of years have passed since the saber-toothed cat extinction and there is no information about petting any saber-toothed cat in history. So, it is relatively hard to consider the behavior of these animals as pets.

Did you know...

The name saber-toothed tiger given to the smilodon is misleading as they are not even slightly related to tigers.

When was the saber-toothed cat alive?

Saber-toothed cats are found almost everywhere in the world from the Eocene epoch and stretch till the end of the Pleistocene epoch 11,000 years ago or 42 million years ago. They lived from the period of the ice age.

The fossil records show that the Nimravidae were extant from about 37 million - 7 million years back. The saber-toothed cat went extinct approximately 10000 years back due to the extinction of their prey stock.

How long are saber-toothed cat teeth?

The distinctive pair of long canines in saber-toothed cats could grow up to 8 in and that permitted it to inflict deep stabbing wounds.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including Asiatic lion, or plains zebra.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our saber-toothed cat coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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