Tiger cubs, Conception and Birth. Early Days.

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


Newborn cubs:

Newborn cubs weigh 2-3 pounds and are about 18 inches long. In the next four to five years they will increase their weight by approximately 60 times.

Within minutes of being born cubs will be crying and moving blindly towards their mother's nipples. The infants of all predators are born helpless and blind, but there is practicality behind this. Mothers must go out to hunt; with the offspring disabled by blindness they are unlikely to wander off and become food for other predators.

For an average of three to five days a membrane covers the cubs eyes; after this time it splits. Quite rarely, cubs may be born with one eye open, or the membrane can even remain intact for as long as 12 days. Once it splits, the cubs get their first hazy view of the world.

The haze remains for about two months and so cubs are usually confined to the den area for the first three months. Initial eye colour is pale blue-green, later changing to amber. 

The tigress:

A female with her first litter is usually uncertain and awkward; even with the second litter most tigresses are less than perfect mothers. By the time they have their third set of cubs they have a great deal of experience and are formidable foes if they sense any threat.

The suspicion that a wild tigress will sometimes eat cubs has never been substantiated. There is reason to consider it may be true as both domestic cats and lions will eat their young. As well as this, cannibalism has occurred in captive tigers.

Tiger cubs or tiger kittens?

It is common to hear tiger cubs referred to as 'kittens'. This is an incorrect term for the offspring of the great cats: tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard. Young of these animals are referred to as 'cubs' while the offspring of all other big cats are correctly termed 'kittens'.

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

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 Photography Thanks To Hans Stenström (Photo 1)
Kevin Borden (Photo 2)
All Rights Reserved. Displayed here with permission, for educational, non-profit purposes.