The tiger, or Pantheri tigris, is a large cat native to parts of Asia, India and Russia. Fully grown, tigers can weigh over 300 pounds and measure over 12 feet in length. Tigers can live for approximately 15 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity. Female tigers give birth about once every two years. Baby tigers are called “cubs.”
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About three and a half months after mating with a male tiger, the female tiger gives birth to a litter of cubs. The female tiger usually chooses a spot that's secluded and covered to have her babies. Typically, the birth of a litter of cubs takes about an hour, with cubs being born every 15 to 20 minutes. Cubs weigh approximately two pounds when they are born. They are blind and utterly dependent on their mother for food and protection.
After the tiger cubs are born, the mother tiger eats the umbilical cord, placenta and embryonic sac. She cleans the cub by licking it with her rough tongue. The cubs then try to locate a teat in order to nurse. This can take up to four hours. Because the mother tiger does not assist her cubs in locating a teat, sometimes cubs starve to death. In captivity, tiger keepers often lead the cub to a teat so it can begin nursing.
Though a female tiger gives birth to two to seven cubs in a litter, usually not all of the cubs survive. Often, the mother tiger cannot find enough food to feed all of the cubs. Because of this, usually only two of the cubs in the litter survive to adulthood.
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The cubs nurse their mother until they are about 24 weeks old. Then, the female tiger begins to bring the cubs prey to eat such as buffalo, wild pigs, deer or other animals. The cubs cannot hunt on their own until they are approximately one and a half years old.
After about two or three years with their mother, the cubs establish their own territories. Sometimes, especially if the cub is a female, this new territory is close to the mother’s.