Raising Tiger Cubs

Raising Cubs - Page 1&2: Mortality & General Safety | 3,4&5: Learning To Hunt


How tiger cubs learn to hunt (Stage 3):

In the last stage of learning to hunt the cubs practice their skills on their own. They start with small prey like birds, rodents and fawns, though they show no fear of large animals. They still show their lack of knowledge by attacking the legs of prey rather than using more efficient means. This leaves them open to retaliation from a set of horns or tusks, with cubs commonly being killed.

At this point the family sometimes rejoin the male who is less bad-tempered towards older, better behaved cubs. The risk of him injuring or killing them reduces to a level that is more acceptable to the tigress.

By the age of 16 months most cubs have a fully developed set of canines, but it isn't until around 18 months that they are independent hunters and no longer require their mother.  In fact, in some areas, like Ranthambhore National Park in India, it has been observed that the cubs rarely become independent of their mother before the age of two.

Moving into new territories:

Young tigers may remain and hunt in their mother's home range for as long as 30 months; various circumstances cause them to move into their own territories.

A courting male will drive away adolescent cubs so he has the female's full attention. Once oestrus is over and the male departs the female may reunite with her elder cubs for a time.

The advent of a new pregnancy will often cause a mother to drive off any juveniles; otherwise the tigress herself will leave when the time for new birth arrives. She does this to seek a solitary and safe area for the cubs. 

This all ensures there is no threat to her young and reduces competition for food while she is attempting to teach hunting skills.

Raising Cubs - Page 1&2: Mortality & General Safety | 3,4&5: Learning To Hunt

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Photography With Thanks To Kevin Borden (Photo 1) 
Hans Stenström (Photo 2)
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