Scientific Name: Smilodon fatalis
Projected Natural Lifespan: 15 - 20 years
Length: Around 175 cm (68.8 in)
Weight: Between 160 and 280 kg (353 - 617 lbs)
Locality: North America
Exhibit: The Big Cat House
Smilodon fatalis, also known as the saber-tooth cat, is one of prehistory’s most recognizable creatures. Around 7 inch long sabers paired with a robust and muscular body helped make S. fatalis an apex predator, able to take down beasts such as Bison antiquus, an ancient bison (similar to the Bison latifrons we have on display here) that could weigh over 3,000 lbs. The forests and brushy plains of Pleistocene North America were the preferred habitat of this ambush predator and were its home until around 13,000 years ago, when S. fatalis went extinct.
Currently, Huxley has a pride of three Smilodon fatalis. Half Tooth, easily distinguishable by his dark markings and broken saber, and our two females, Lady and Brea. All the cats are about 4 years old. The group can be found in The Big Cat House, alongside our pair of Babary lions.
Though the evidence of Smilodon fatalis living in groups during the Pleistocene is not 100% conclusive, our pride certainly seem to enjoy each other’s company. They can often be found grooming one another, cuddling while taking a cat nap on a hot Australian afternoon, and of course play fighting. Half Tooth and Lady in particular seem to be quite close, which hopefully means Huxley can expect the pitter patter of tiny paws soon.
Although they’re all the same age, Brea is definitely still a kitten at heart. She’s quite playful, often being the initiator of any tussles (how do you all think Half Tooth lost part of his saber?), and not shy when it comes to letting visitors and keepers alike know how she feels.