Ligers - Page 1: Description | 2: The Breeding Of Ligers | 3&4: Ti-Liger Photographs

What is a liger?:

A liger is the offspring of a lion father and a tiger mother. Though the tigers involved are usually of the orange colouration, white tigers have been hybridised with lions to produce white ligers and golden tabby tigers have been hybridised with lions to produce golden ligers.

As big cat hybridisations go, this is a relatively common combination, occurring quite often in captivity by accident, and very occasionally by design.

No official scientific name exists for hybrid animals such as these, though ligers are occasionally referred to in a light-hearted manner as Panthera leo/tigris.


Ligers share characteristics of both their parents. Some look very like lions, while others show their tiger heritage strongly.

They usually chuff like a tiger and  roar like a lion, but without giving the typical lion grunt at the end. Their vocabulary is made up both of lion and tiger sounds.

The liger pelage usually has the typical tan lion colouring, with tiger 'candle flame' shaped stripes or spots running through it. Most typically, the striping is located across the back and hindquarters, while the abdominal area is spotted. These spots are inherited from the lion parent, even though they are not normally obvious in adult lions. (Spotting can be seen on lion cubs and helps with concealment in the wild. Very occasionally, adult lions will retain these).

On ligers, tiger ear spots may or may not be present and the same applies to the tiger facial ruff.

Click thumbnails for large images.

Liger thumbnail

Liger thumbnail

A male liger may have a leonine mane, but this is much more modest than on the lion and many male ligers have little or no head decoration at all. All the ligers on this page are male, yet few show any mane, and even where they do it is puny compared to the lion.

Ligers generally inherit a love of the water which comes from their tiger parent, but it can take some time for the tiger side of their personality to convince the lion side that water is a great thing. Apparent confusion between the lion and the tiger sides of a liger's personality is quite often noted by handlers.


Hybrid animals usually display what is known as 'hybrid vigour'. This means the offspring grow much larger and faster than either parent, and it appears that many hybridisations cause gigantism.

Lligers are the largest felid in the world and can stand 12 feet tall on their hind legs. There are several photographs within this article which show comparisons between humans and ligers; they give an idea of just how huge these hybrids are. Fortunately, these cats have quite a gentle and easy going disposition. (Note that tigons are quite a different story when it comes to size. They show a tendency towards dwarfism).

Ligers may weigh in at half a ton, up to double the weight of a fully-grown Amur tiger. 'Hobbs', the liger shown below is the offspring of a Bengal tigress and an African lion. He has an estimated weight of between 800 and 1200 pounds. As a comparison, the Guinness Book of World Records lists the heaviest Amur tiger as being a 1,025 pound male, but this is highly unusual for the subspecies and a captive Amur tiger would be very lucky to reach 650-675 pounds.

Ligers - Page 1: Description | 2: The Breeding Of Ligers | 3&4: Ti-Liger Photographs

Hybridisation | Ligers | Tigons & Ti-Tigons | Leopons | Pumapards | Marozi | Other Hybrid Cats | Medical Curiosities

Hybrids Index | Home

Photography With Thanks To Lisa Purcell (Photo 1)
T.I.G.E.R.S. (Photos 2,5)
Chris Link (Photos 3-4)
Sierra Safari Zoo (Photo 6)
All Rights Reserved. Displayed here with permission, for educational, non-profit purposes.