Tigers were voted the world’s favorite animal in a poll by Animal Planet. The tiger is the national animal of India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and South Korea. And is there anything more adorable than baby tigers?
Tigers are most recognizable for their dark vertical stripes on orange-brown fur with a lighter underside. They are also the largest living cat species. They have unfortunately lost have at least 93% of their historic range and can now be found in the Indian subcontinent, the Indochinese Peninsula, Sumatra, and the Russian Far East.
The tiger mates all year round, but most cubs are born between March and June, with a second peak in September. Mama tiger gives birth in a sheltered location such as in tall grass, in a dense thicket, cave or rocky crevice with dad nowhere to be found.
Tiger litters consist of two or three cubs, and rarely as many as six. Tiger cubs weigh from 780 to 1,600 g (1.72 to 3.53 lb) each at birth and are born with eyes closed. They open their eyes when they are six to 14 days old.
For the first six weeks most cubs usually hide away in their dens hardly glimpsing any daylight.
At around two weeks old, their milk teeth will break through and they will start to eat meat at the age of eight weeks but baby tigers still have their mothers milk until around six months old.
Around the time they are weaned off the milk, they start to accompany their mother on territorial walks and are taught how to hunt. The tiger babies start hunting on their own at the age of 11 months and become independent around 18 to 20 months of age.
Tiger babies face many dangers but the biggest danger is from unrelated wandering male tigers. They will often kill cubs to make the female receptive, since the tigress may give birth to another litter within five months if the cubs of the previous litter are lost.
The most common causes of cub mortality are starvation, freezing, accidents but also humans.
Tiger cubs will separate from their mother at the age of 2 to 2.5 years, but continue to grow until the age of 5.