Tiger cub but still pretty big at 50lbs - photo by Financial Aid Podcast
Here's some pictures and facts about baby tigers. Tigresses are very cautious and protective about their cubs. Tigresses will risk their lives and have charged at people who are inadvertently too near the den. The cubs are usually moved by the tigress to a safer area. Even in tourist areas where tigers are used to people being around, tigresses will "disappear" with their offspring during the first months of their lives.
The comments that people make when they see a video like the one above tells us a lot about our relationship with the tiger. This is the kind of thing people say:
I'd like tigers to stay small and like a cat. But they grow up and they are a whole different type of animal.
OMG CUTENESS OVERLOAD!!!!!!!
until it grows up 'n eats u
I love tigers!!
It'd be f**king awesome to have a tiger as a pet.
oh no....they shouldn't be pets! that's soo sad...
i wanna baby tiger
We all have this kind of problem with baby tigers. We love them terribly. They are fantastically cute. We want to own one and cuddle it. This is partly because we know that this is a very strong and dangerous animal in the making. That makes the vulnerable baby tiger even more attractive and cute.
Then as is so often the case, when they grow up we sort of lose interest. We forget about them. We are scared of them as well. But the reverence for them remains. This apathy about the adult tiger and our reverence and admiration of it means it is abused by people who want to profit from it. This is why the tiger is a very endangered species of wildcat.
Our admiration for tigers also means that there are more pet tigers in America (12,000 or so) than there are wild tigers (about 1,400 Bengal, 400 Sumatran, 400 Siberian, South China 20). That is the way of the world.
Captive mother and baby tiger. Photo by lembagg
Tiger cubs weigh about 2-4 lbs. at birth. The raising and feeding of baby tigers by people is pretty technical stuff. And there is little hard detail on the internet about it. This is a very complete article however: Feeding Baby Tiger Cubs (this takes you to a different website on a new page).
There is an interesting story about a one year old captive South China tiger who couldn't see because he had cataracts. On this occasion I must praise the Chinese as a surgeon operated on the tiger to restore sight. I have been critical of the China tiger farms etc. However, the reality is that the poor eyesight of this tiger cub is probably due to inbreeding. Inbreeding of tigers in captivity is a real problem and not often realised by people who are not involved in rearing captive tigers. The reason is low tiger populations in the wild is due to the depletion of habit and poaching to supply the tiger body part trade as major reasons. Sad isn't it.
The typical litter size for a tiger is 3 - 4 cubs. Baby tigers are born blind and helpless. The female rears the cubs alone. About half of all tiger cubs in the wild do not make it beyond 2 years of age, a high mortality rate. Infanticide (adult males killing cubs) occurs sometimes at the site of kills.
At about 8 weeks the babies explore, leaving the den and following their mother to a hunt but not joining her on it. At about 18 weeks they are more independent and about the size of a medium to large dog. They are weaned at about 6 months of age. They might do a bit of hunting of small animals at this stage but they don't have the permanent canine teeth to kill and eat larger prey.
At about 2+ years they become independent.
Photos: published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License -- this site is for charitable purposes in funding cat rescue.