The maternal instincts of Amur tigers

The maternal instincts of Amur tigers

15 April 2014

Amur tigers are believed to be polygamous. Given the huge distances separating tigers’ territories, tigresses often have to take the initiative in searching for a mate. Their mating periods are not linked to any particular season, but more often than not offspring arrive between April and June.


After three or four months of gestation, an expectant tigress will give birth to two or three blind cubs. She will make a home for them in a safe, out-of-the-way spot, such as a thicket, a cave, or a rock crevice, where the risk of being spotted by other predators is minimal.


Newborn cubs open their eyes after about nine days and their teeth start to come in when they are two weeks old. A tigress will breastfeed her cubs for about six months, mixing in game after about two months.


Tiger cubs develop their hunting skills through play, but they are bad hunters at this age. When they turn six months old, their mother begins to take them on her hunts to teach them the tricks of the trade. They first try to hunt for themselves at the age of one, but their initial attempts often end in failure. Only by the age of two will young tigers learn to handle big game independently.


Tiger cubs tend to spend their early years by their mother’s side. A tigress continues to take them on her hunts until they reach sexual maturity. During their second year, young tigers are supposed to separate from their mother, but they will normally stay on her territory for some time.