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Do Tigers Kill Their Own Cubs?

February 28, 2022 2 min read


Tigers have gotten a pretty bad reputation as cold-blooded killers, and it’s not exactly undeserved — it has been well-documented that tiger mothers have killed their own cubs when they have wandered too far away from the nest, or when their mothers were unable to provide enough food to support more than one litter of cubs at any given time.

This has led many people to ask whether tigers kill their own cubs out of sheer necessity, or if there’s something else behind this seemingly gruesome behavior.

What is Tiger Cub Cannibalism

In nature, many adult animals kill their own young if they don’t have enough food to provide for all of them. Animals that practice cannibalism are said to be kleptoparasitic – an animal that kills others so it can eat them. In a kleptoparasitic act, it is likely an adult tiger who kills and eats cubs from another litter because tigers are solitary hunters, often covering huge areas in order to find enough food for themselves.

Why do Tigers Eat Cubs

The answer to why tigers eat their own cubs is not simple, but can be summed up by one word: survival. It’s a harsh and brutal reality that we often don’t like to think about, but it’s a harsh and brutal reality of nature. Tigers will often kill their own cubs if there isn’t enough food for them all in times of extreme shortage.

Tiger Cub Cannibalism - When Should You Worry

If a tiger mother kills her cubs, it’s probably because she can’t afford to raise them all. Tiger moms give birth to three or four babies at a time and typically nurse their young for about six months. That means mom has to eat enough—roughly 80 pounds of meat per day—to support herself and each offspring. When there aren’t enough wild deer, pigs, or other prey animals around, female tigers will sometimes kill one of their cubs in order to feed themselves and the others.

Are There Other Animals That Kill their Young?

You might have heard that there are some animals that kill their own young, but you may not know which animals they are or why they do it. When it comes to birds, killer birds such as vultures and condors eat their young right after they hatch.

They do so in order to protect their nesting site from predators. In mammals, one of the most common types of infanticide is practiced by male lions on hyenas who approach when he has a kill. The lion knows he can’t feed both himself and his cubs at once, so he kills his cubs before turning his attention to feeding himself.

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