The mating and courtship of the tiger

Mating - Page 1: In The Wild | 2: Fighting for a Female | 3&4: Copulation | 5&6: In Captivity


Tiger fights:

Male tigers will fight if they are attracted to the same breeding female. Fights are rarely to the death and usually consist of a few angry gestures; after this, the loser will normally just depart.

Most fights probably occur between a male holding territory and a transient male hoping to take over that territory -- and the local females. It is necessary for young adults (of both sexes) to stake out an area of their own before they can start to breed. Whereas females only need territories of about 10-15 square kilometres, males have a range that is about triple that size. (Lack of prey can mean a territory is even larger).

If neither combatant gives way, when challenged, a ritual is followed which invariably leads to a fight. 

The challenge:

The ritual consists of a series of challenges; after each challenge one tiger has the opportunity to back away.

First the cats attempt to stare each other down; they then show their teeth and fan their whiskers.

This is followed by vocalisation; first a catlike hiss and then quiet growls. As they become more annoyed the pair get louder and increasingly vocal.

The battle:

Now the pair begin slapping each other with their front paws until eventually one cat unsheathes his claws.

The violence escalates, with the noise becoming bloodcurdling. Like the tigers shown above, the combatants rise up onto on their hind legs and start swinging. 

Usually all of this activity ceases after a matter of minutes, though fights of some hours have been recorded.

If neither male withdraws the fight continues to the death, often from a broken neck. Meanwhile, the female may have left the scene searching for another mate.

Mating - Page 1: In The Wild | 2: Fighting for a Female | 3&4: Copulation | 5&6: In Captivity

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 With Thanks To Ellery Chua
All Rights Reserved. Displayed here with permission, for educational, non-profit purposes.