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


First encounters:

The primary concern  of any tiger is its personal safety and potential mates may come together, then part again, a number of times before trust is gained.

The tiger is a solitary animal by nature so the first encounter between a male and female is often accompanied with much snarling and snapping. Gradually the pair will move closer, until they are whisker to whisker, but they continue to snarl for a time.

Mating gestures:

Once they calm down the tigress starts to make a series of gestures designed to attract her mate. These include grooming, nuzzling, licking, rubbing along his sides and giving him 'love' bites. She then rolls on the ground waving her paws in the air. Snorting and foot stamping may be part of the act.

The male watches this with some disdain until she lies on her belly presenting to him, forelegs fully extended and hind legs partially bent. At this point the male moves over the tigress and mounts her in a knees-bent position, which places no pressure on her body. Sometimes he will vocalise loudly.


Copulation requires the tigress to assume a vulnerable position. During ejaculation the male lets out a sharp cry and takes hold of the lose skin folds on the neck of the female. This exposes her neck to a bite and possible instant death.

The reason for the neck bite is to ensure both are in the correct position at the time of climax, but there have been instances where a mistake by an inexperienced couple has led to a death.

As he dismounts, the female responds by growling and jumping up so as to dislodge him. She may slap or 'box' at the male, inflicting quite severe, though superficial, scratches. Both cats will vocalise loudly and it is during mating that tigers are at their noisiest. Other than this they are quite creatures, as making noise only alerts potential prey to their presence.

The pair on the left did not go further than the sex play shown in the image. They are father and daughter; though a male will mate with any receptive female, she was too young and not in season. The young Amur female was later transferred to another facility where she will be paired with a suitable partner.

 (Continued Page 4)

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

Habits of the Tiger Index | Home

Photography With Thanks To Ralf Schmode (Photo 2)
All Rights Reserved. Displayed here with permission, for educational, non-profit purposes.