Biology

How do tigers give birth and take care of their cubs?

For the first time in 17 years a tiger cub has been born at London Zoo, with amazing footage of the cub being born below.

Mating amongst tigers can occur all year round but is most common between November and April, however a female is only receptive for three to six days and mating is frequent around that period.

The average gestation period is 104-106 days, with a litter size of normally between one to six cubs, however two to three are usually the norm. Cubs are born blind and helpless and weigh between 680 to 1,400 g with only the mother rearing them alone. They open their eyes at six to 14 days old and at eight weeks, cubs start venturing out of the den with their mother.

Cubs are nursed for a total of about three to six months, after which they are taught to hunt by their mother, and they are often capable hunters byt the time they are around 11 months old. Cubs become independent around 18 months of age, but do not fully separate from their moth until they are about 2 years old.

The mortality rate of tiger cubs is fairly high in the wild, with about half not surviving more than two years. The main reasons for this, beyond humans and other tigers are normally starvation, freezing and accidents.