Tiger cubs, Conception and Birth. Early Days.

Cubs - Page 1:Pregnancy | 2&3: Birth & Newborns | 4: Captive Breeding | 5: Hand Raising

The birth process in tigers:

Most births seem to occur at night, probably because things are quieter and the tigress is less likely to be interrupted.

As she is about to give birth the tigress becomes restless, will lick around her vulva and then press down on her lower half. She will either stand, or sit with one leg raised.

The interval between each birth ranges from 10 to 20 minutes. Normally the birth process completes in under an hour, however captive cats have recorded labours of as long as 18 hours.

Immediately after birth:

As each cub is born the tigress frees them from the umbilical cord and they are cleaned with her tongue. The embryonic sac, umbilical cord and placenta are all eaten.

Once a cub has been cleaned it will attempt to locate a teat, with this taking from 1 to 4 hours to achieve. It is thought cubs use their mother's body heat as a guide, but they often make a mistake and may end up at her head or tail. Even if they are in the correct area, it is difficult to find a teat amongst all of that fur. The tigress will in no way assist and a cub which fails to find a teat may die of starvation.

Once a teat has been located the cubs will stimulate the flow of milk by pummeling with their paws. This is the same action which is carried out by domestic cats, and in their case is often continued right through adulthood.

The runt of the litter:

It is not unusual for at least one cub to die at birth. This is normally the runt of the litter which, even if it survives the birth, will probably die later of starvation, or be crushed. As the weakest of the litter they very rarely live long enough to venture outside, but when they do they become prime targets for predators. Captive tigers do not have this problem; most of their cubs will survive due to hand rearing.

So, what happens when a cub fails to move? It appears to be movement which attracts the mother's interest. Stillborn cubs are ignored, or may get a few cursory licks.

(Continued Page 3)

Cubs - Page 1:Pregnancy | 2&3: Birth & Newborns | 4: Captive Breeding | 5: Hand Raising

Mating | Early Days | Raising Cubs | Hunting & Captive Feeding | Water Play | Sleeping | Tree Climbing
The Man-Eater | Myths & Facts | Conflict with other Animals

Habits of the Tiger Index | Home

Photography With Thanks To Dreamworld (Photos 1-2)
Lisa Purcell (Photo 3)
Freeman Brown (Photo 4)
All Rights Reserved. Displayed here with permission, for educational, non-profit purposes.