There is nothing cuter in the world than animal babies, and tiger cubs are no exception. The Tiger or "Panthera tigris" is a fearsome fawn native to Asia, India, and Russia. Weighing more than 250 kg and measuring up to 3.5 meters in length, the big cat is no bigger than a small cat at birth.
But then what path does the Tiger cub follow to become this famous predator that we fear as much as we admire? Tiger-Universe has looked into the question to give you a complete history of the Tiger cub!
What is the name of the Tiger cub?
This is a question that has long created controversy in the scientific community. We know today, and for more than ten years, the Tiger cub is called the Tiger. This should not be confused with the Tigron, which is the offspring of a cross between a tiger and a lioness. Or with the Liger, which on the other hand, is the result of a cross between a Tigress and a lion.
After the mating between a Tiger and a Tigress, the latter begins a gestation period lasting three and a half months. At the end of this period, she retires to an isolated place where she gives birth to her cubs. The delivery lasts 1 hour, and the cubs come out of the mother's womb one by one in 15-20 minute intervals. The Tiger abandons the Tigress to return to her solitary life. She will raise and feed her cubs by herself.
A litter is usually made up of 2 to 5 baby Tigers. Unfortunately, among these births, on average, half of the cubs do not survive for various reasons. The main one being the lack of food because the Tigress rarely has the necessary resources to provide for the whole family. This problem does not arise in captivity because animal parks can feed tiny siblings.
The tiger cub weighs between 0.9 and 1.5 kg at birth. He is born blind with beautiful blue eyes. He will learn to see and lose this blue color two weeks after birth. These blue eyes are very characteristic of Tiger cubs but are only temporary.
As a good mother, the Tigress herself breaks the umbilical cord that connects her to her cubs. She also cleans them thoroughly by licking the placenta, covering them with her rough tongue. Tiger babies immediately seek to suckle their mothers once they are born. But this is not an easy thing for them because of their blindness; the Tigress does not help them find her teats either. So they have to go by trial and error; some of them will inevitably die by not seeing their mother's teats.
That's why in captivity, the keepers make it easier for them by making them suckle from a bottle. This allows them to feed safely until they can see.
The newborns experience a very impressive physical evolution. The daily breastfeeding of the Tigress explains this at the beginning of their life. Indeed, the Tigress nurses them until they are 12 weeks old, which is about three months. Before they reach two months of age, the Tigresses feed exclusively on their mother's milk. This milk is extremely rich in fat and protein, which allows the young Tigers to experience phenomenal growth.
During the first 20 months of its life, the Tigerau multiplies its weight by 100! That is to say that it passes from 1 kg on average to not far from 100kg. This early evolution is not so insignificant for predators of this size because they must quickly learn to hunt to survive. After that, the growth of the young is slower until they reach their adult size at the age of 3 years.
Let's go back a little bit; once the tiger cub has passed the age of suckling, it starts to taste fresh meat. Be careful, though; the Tigress continues to hunt alone because her cubs cannot follow her in her quest for food. They only start to taste the pleasure of hunting alone at one and a half years.
Once they reach adulthood and acquire hunting skills, the Tiger leaves the family home to live a solitary life. The young males leave the family first, followed by the young females sometime later. In the wild, Tigers live between 15 and 20 years; their childhood is only a tiny part of their writing!
The Tigress is a very protective mother who thinks above all about the well-being of her cubs. The tiger is vulnerable to all kinds of attacks when born; this fragility explains why it depends 100% on its mother. The latter takes care of him by breastfeeding him abundantly at the beginning of his young life. Even if this breastfeeding will be reduced progressively until completely disappearing after three months, it remains nevertheless necessary for the survival of the young.
Moreover, the mother does her best to protect her babies by changing dens often. Any of the predators could take advantage of the weakness of the Tigers to feed on them. It becomes imperative for the Tigress to establish her home in a safe place, away from any danger.
The cubs live the beginning of their lives in a den, often in the hollow of a mountain or a remote cave. Their mother leaves them alone for some time to hunt game. Once she has succeeded in killing a prey, she brings it back to her babies to feed them, as they cannot follow her in her hunt.
Tigers are extremely clean, which is why the cleanliness of the environment in which they live is paramount. Thus, they never defecate or urinate in their den. Moreover, the preys are always deposited in front of the cave by the mother. She does this to force the young to eat outside the shelter.
Once the whole group reaches one month old, they start playing with each other and with their mother. In this way, they test their strength through a game of dominance by fighting nicely. Little Tigers are known to be great players, missing no opportunity to have fun. But the winner often remains the same, either the mother when she plays with her cubs. Or it's the dominant male of the litter when they fight each other.
Around the age of 3 months, the little Tigers start to follow their mother to the carcasses of animals to feed. The Tigress no longer brings the food to them, but they must come to her. By doing this, the Tigers begin to get used to eating under actual hunting conditions.
The Tiger mother has a fundamental maternal instinct. This way, she will always let her cubs eat first from the prey she just killed. Even if she is hungry, the Tigress will only eat the remains of her hard-earned game.
Young Tigers learn to hunt from their mother. She shows them the most effective ways to kill. Through observation and practice, the Tigers imitate their mother by tracking and hunting small prey.
Thanks to the predatory knowledge provided by the Tigress, Tiger cubs can hunt on their own once they reach the age of one. However, they are still not strong enough to take on large herbivores. To defeat animals like buffalo, they will always need the help of their mother. In these rare situations, we can observe a true pack spirit in this mammal.
After spending two and a half years with their mother, it is time for the young Tigers to become independent. They will leave the family cocoon to establish themselves on their territory. If the tiger is a female, it is observed that she will prefer to settle on land close to her mother. On the other hand, when it's a male, he goes on an adventure, and he and his mother may never meet again.
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The Tiger cub is a fantastic but fearsome animal. The way he learns to hunt from his mother is simply impressive. He experiences phenomenal growth that makes him a formidable predator very quickly.
But if the young Tiger is today, it is largely thanks to the many sacrifices of his mother. She will always put her cubs before herself, no matter what it costs her. We have here concrete proof of a true maternal instinct in the Tiger.
One does not become the Jungle King without having an exemplary mistress to guide us. Even though you reach adulthood, the mother and child may never meet again. We are sure that the Tiger shows deep respect and infinite gratitude towards the one who was his guide in this wild jungle!
"The future of a child is the work of his mother."