Journey With Story


Journey With Story

How the Tiger Got Its Stripes E139


Learn How this Tiger Gets a Taste of His Own Medicine in this Fun Folktale

A folktale from Brazil about a rabbit who gives a tiger a taste of his own medicine to teach him a lesson, oh, and it also explains how tigers got their stripes!  (duration-14 minutes) An episode from Journey with Story, a storytelling podcast for kids.

How the Tiger Got Its Stripes:E139


Do you know what it means if someone says they are going to give a person a taste of his own medicine?  Yes, it means that someone gets the same bad treatment he has been giving others. So if a person plays a trick on a friend, then that friend would give him a taste of his own medicine and play a trick on him.  Sometimes, that is the only way to teach someone a lesson. 

Hello everyone. I’m Kathleen Pelley. Welcome to Journey with Story.  Today’s story is a tale from Brazil and it is all about a rabbit who gives a tiger a taste of his own medicine to teach him a lesson –oh, and it also explains how the tiger got its stripes. 


Let’s take a journey with – How the Tiger Got Its Stripes. 

In ancient times, when the tiger had no stripes upon his back, and the rabbit still had his tail, there lived a tiger who owned a farm. The farm was completely overgrown with underbrush and so the tiger wanted to find a worker who would be able to clear the ground for him so he would be able to plant. 

He called all the beasts together and said to them “I need a good worker to clear my farm of the underbrush.   Whoever can do this for me, I will pay him an ox.” 

 The monkey was the first one to step forward “ I will do this for you,” he said. 

And so the monkey went to work.  But the monkey was lazy and did not put any effort into his task, and the tiger saw no progress as the days turned into weeks.  So he told the monkey to leave and refused to pay him anything for his efforts. 

Then the tiger hired the goat, who worked faithfully enough, but did not have the brains to accomplish what needed to be done.  He would clear a little of the farm in one place and then he would go away and work on another part of it, never finishing anything and making more of a muddle than before.  So the tiger told the goat to leave and refused to pay him anything for his efforts 

Next the tiger tried the armadillo. The armadillo was very strong and he did the work well. The trouble with him was that he had such an appetite. There were a great many ants about the place and the armadillo could never pass by a sweet tender juicy ant without stopping to eat it. It was lunchtime all day long with him. So the tiger told him to leave and refused to pay him anything for his efforts.  

Finally, the rabbit offered to try.  The tiger laughed at him and said, “Why, little rabbit, you are too small to do the work. The monkey, the goat, and the armadillo have all failed to give satisfaction. Of course a little beast like you will fail too.” 

However, there were no other beasts that were willing to help, and so the tiger agreed to give the rabbit a chance. 

As it turned out, the rabbit was a hard worker.  It did not take him long to clear a large portion of the ground.  And the next day, he set to work again and made great progress. The tiger was very happy and relieved to see how well the rabbit was working, and so much trust did he now have in the rabbit, that he decided to set off on a little hunting trip for himself.  Before he left, he put his son in charge of overseeing the rabbit’s work. 

Soon after his departure, the rabbit asked the tiger’s son, “The ox which your father is going to give me is marked with a white spot on his left ear and another on his right side, isn’t he?” 

“O, no,” replied the tiger’s son. “He is red all over with just a tiny white spot on his right ear.” 

The rabbit worked for a while longer and then he asked, “The ox which your father is going to give me is kept by the river, isn’t he?” 

“Yes,” replied the tiger’s son. 

The rabbit plotted to go and get the ox without waiting to finish his work. But just as he started off he saw the tiger returning, and so he thought the better of his plan.  Instead, he stayed and continued to work with the tiger now watching him every day.  Finally, every single corner of the land was completely clear and ready for planting. 

As agreed, the tiger gave the rabbit the ox. But he warned him, “You must kill this ox in a place where there are neither flies nor mosquitoes.” 

“Very well,” agreed the rabbit, and off he went.  But after a short distance, the rabbit grew impatient and could not wait any longer.  He decided he would kill the ox right there on the road.  Just then, he heard a cock crowing in the distance and realized there must be a farmyard nearby. That meant there would be swarms of flies, and so he walked on a little further.  

 Once more he stopped and got ready to kill the ox, but he noticed the ground looked moist and damp and so did the leaves on the bushes. That meant – mosquitoes lived there, and so once more he changed his mind and instead walked on a little further. 

When he came to a place where a strong breeze blew, he stopped and said to himself, “There are no mosquitoes here, nor any flies.  It will be safe to kill the ox here, surely.” 

Just as he was ready to eat the ox, along came the tiger. “O, rabbit, you have been such a good friend of mine, and now I am so very, very hungry that all my ribs show, as you yourself can see. Will you not be a good kind rabbit and give me a piece of your ox?” 

The rabbit gave the tiger a piece of the ox. The tiger devoured it in the twinkling of an eye. Then he leaned back and said, “Is that all you are going to give me to eat?” 

The tiger looked so big and savage that the rabbit did not dare refuse to give him any more of the ox. The tiger ate and ate and ate until he had devoured that entire ox. The rabbit had been able to get only a tiny morsel of it. He was furious at the tiger, and plotted to give him a taste of his own medicine as soon as he could. 

One day not long after the rabbit went to a place not far from the tiger’s house and began cutting down big staves of wood. The tiger soon happened along and asked him what he was doing. 

“I’m getting ready to build a big wall around myself,” replied the rabbit. “Haven’t you heard the orders?”  

“What orders?” asked the tiger. “ I don’t know what you mean.” 

“That is very strange,” said the rabbit. “The order has gone forth that every single animal must build a fence around himself for protection.  We are all doing it.” 

The tiger became very much alarmed. “O, dear! O, dear! What shall I do,” he cried. “I don‘t know how to build a fence. I never could do it in the world. O, good rabbit! O, kind rabbit! You are such, a very good friend of mine. Couldn’t you, as a great favor because of our long friendship, build a fence about me before you build one around yourself?” 

At first the rabbit refused, telling the tiger that he did not dare risk his own life in such a way. But the tiger continued to plead and beg, and so at last the rabbit agreed. 

He started to cut down great quantities of long sharp sticks. He set them firmly in the ground about the tiger. He fastened others securely over the top until the tiger was completely shut in by strong bars.  And then… he went away and left the tiger. 

The tiger waited and waited for something to happen to show him why this big stockade was necessary. But nothing did happen. 

After a while the tiger began to grow hungry and thirsty. It was then that the monkey passed by. 

“O, monkey, has the danger passed?” asked the tiger. 

Now the monkey had no idea what the tiger was talking about, but still he just replied anyway, “Yes.” 

Then the tiger said, “O, monkey, O, good, kind monkey, will you not please be so kind as to help me out of this fence?” 

“Let the one who got you in there help you out,” replied the monkey and he went on his way. 

In a little while, along came the goat and the tiger called out, “O, goat, has the danger passed?” 

Now the goat had no idea what the tiger was talking about, but still he just replied anyway, “Yes.” 


Then the tiger said, “O, goat, O, good kind goat, please be so kind as to help me out of this fence.” 

“Let the one who got you in there help you out,” replied the goat as he went on his way. 

Next, along came the armadillo and the tiger called out, “O, armadillo, has the danger passed?” 

Just like monkey and goat, the armadillo had no idea what the tiger was talking about, but still, he replied anyway, “yes.” 

 Then the tiger said, “O, armadillo, O, good, kind armadillo, you have always been such a good friend and neighbor. Please help me now to get out of my fence.” 

“Let the one who got you in there help you out,” replied the armadillo as he went on his way. 

By now the tiger was angry and hungry and desperate to escape his prison, and so he jumped and jumped with all his force at the top of the fence, but he could not break through. He jumped and jumped with all his might at the front side of the fence but he could not break through. He thought that never in the world would he be able to break out.  

He rested for a little while and as he rested he thought. He thought how bright the sun was shining outside. He thought what good hunting there was in the jungle. He thought how cool the water was at the spring.  

Once more he jumped and jumped with all his might at the backside of the fence At last he broke through. He did not get through, however, without getting bad cuts on both his sides from the sharp edges of the wooden posts…. and so it is that until this very day the tiger has stripes on both his sides. 

So – you see how that tiger got a good taste of his own medicine!  I wonder if you could make up your own story about someone or some animal who gets a taste of his own medicine and learns his lesson?  Don’t forget- you can always share your drawings with us on IG at journey with story. 


Cheerio then, join me next time for Journey with Story. 

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