1. A female tiger's gestation period is about 100 days. Gestation may range from 93 to 111 days.(1)
B. Frequency of births
1. Most adult tiger females give birth about every 2 to 2.5 years. Periodically, the
interval between births is every three to four years. (1)
2. If a litter of newborns dies, a female can produce another litter within five
C. Cubs at birth
1. At birth, tiger cubs weigh about 780 to 1,600 g (1.7-3.5 lb.). (1)
2. Tiger cubs are born on a cushion of matted grass in a cave, a rocky crevice, a
hollow tree, or in dense vegetation. (2)
3. The cubs are born with their eyes closed.
D. Care and development of young
1. A mother tiger nurses her young for about three to six months.
The father does not assist in their upbringing. (1)
2. Cubs open their eyes at about one week of age, but do not see clearly until about
two months of age. (2)
3. For the first two months, tiger cubs are confined to the den site, and are seldom
left unattended. During this time, females may move their cubs several times to new dens
to avoid predators like leopards, hyenas, jackals, and unfamiliar male tigers. When
moving, the female gently carries the cubs, one by one, in her jaws. (2, 15)
4. After two months of age, the cubs begin to eat meat. The female will hunt on her
own, and afterwards lead her cubs to the kill. The cubs now weigh about 10 kg (22 lb.).
5. Tiger cubs are quite playful, and spend their time stalking and leaping on each
other, or attacking their mother's tail. They also practice their stalking technique on
small animals, like birds or insects.
6. By about six months of age, the cubs are weaned and they begin traveling with their
mother as she hunts. (2)
7. For the following year, the cubs are taught how to hunt. At first, the cubs watch
their mother as she hunts. Next, the mother may cripple a deer or buffalo and let the cubs
finish it off. Finally, the cubs practice their skills on their own. (2)
8. By 18 months of age, the cubs are usually capable, independent hunters. These
subadults may be as large or larger than their mother in size. (15)
9. Subadult tigers may remain in their mother's home range for up to 30 months. They
are usually driven off the range by their mother as she starts taking her new litter of
cubs to kills. (5, 15)
10. Young males usually disperse (travel away from their
mothers' area) farther than young females.
a. In Nepal, males dispersed on average 33 km (21 mi.), while females dispersed only
9.7 km (6 mi.). (15)
b. Subadult males usually disperse to marginal habitats surrounding the resident
population. They tend to establish temporary territories,
and as they mature, gradually expand them into prime habitat breeding territories or move
into the vacated territory of a resident male. Unlike females, males normally shift or
change home ranges several times during their lifetime.(15)
c. Subadult females often establish a home range next to their mother, and may even acquire a portion of her range. Some researchers believe the survival advantage of finding a suitable range close to home (thereby avoiding the risks of dispersal) may outweigh the potential risk of inbreeding between a daughter and father. (5, 15)
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