There are few animals that have been as fascinating to man as Panthera tigris. Perhaps it is the fact that this magnificent big cat is such a solitary, secretive animal that makes it so intriguing. |
For anyone who wants to see the beautiful big cat in the wild, organised Tiger travel is definitely the way to do it. And learning more about the species before embarking on a tour deep into Tiger territory will certainly enhance the experience.
One of the interesting aspects to delve into is the animal’s reproductive and life cycle.
These are solitary animals, usually only coming together for mating - although the mother will nurse her young until the cub matures. Reaching sexual maturity between three and five years of age, the big cats don’t have a particular mating season, although regional variations do exist according to climate.
A female is only fertile for a few days during her cycle, which sees her entering oestrus every three to nine weeks.
Courtship and Mating
When a female is ready to mate she makes it known by spraying urine to mark her territory. She also roars, moans and omits other distinctively odorous excretions to attract the male.
The courtship ritual involves a lot of communication, with the pair circling each other and growling simultaneously. There is a time of trust building and the animals move together and then apart several times before they stay close, before the female starts to groom the male. When she is ready to copulate she shows it by lying face down on the ground. The male mounts the female, being careful not to squash her with his weight, and then emits a loud roar. He then holds the female by the neck with his teeth and copulation begins. As the penis is textured with spikes, sex is painful for the female, but she endures the process multiple times while on heat.
A male may mate with several females during his lifetime.
The gestation period is relatively long, usually between twelve and fourteen weeks, and a litter will normally consist of two or three cubs. Born blind, these cubs depend on the mother for several weeks and the bond created remains strong until the young become independent and leave, at around two years. Birth
After mating, the animals go their separate ways and when ready to give birth, the female will find a cave or secluded spot as a den. Cubs weigh approximately one kilogram each when they are born and they will stay in the den until they are around two months old. When they’re old enough to leave the den the mother will teach them how to hunt.
While there is always a dominant cub that the mother will favour, especially in times of scarce food, she is a devoted carer and a fierce protector. If the male comes into contact with the offspring it is possible he will try to kill them, so that he can mate with the female again.
Dedicated Tiger Travel
Seeing these incredible big cats in the wild is a thrilling, once in a lifetime experience. Through responsible Tiger travel with a reputable, eco-friendly company, nature lovers can learn about this magnificent species, raise awareness of the threats to its habitat, and help conserve the areas in which these beautiful creatures live.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in Tiger travel. Being passionate about her subject, Marissa chooses the expert-led wildlife holidays organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of wildlife in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
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