Do male Tigers help raise cubs?
Father tiger will always help raise the cubs, but chances are high for the cubs to be killed by other intruding male tigers if the father and mother tiger is not there defending the cubs.
Male tigers normally kill the cubs that are not theirs just in order to mate with the mother or to take over the territory and exert their dominance over that region.
Many instances have been reported in the wild where the father tiger has been known for caring and raising the cubs when the mother is not there.
Instances of father tiger alone taking his part to raise its cub like a mother have been reported often in the wild.
Tigers don’t mate for life. Meaning that both male and female tigers may have several mates during their lifetime.
This also indicates that a male tiger with whom a female tiger had once mated and bred a few years or months back can also kill the cubs of that female tiger if he finds out that she has mated with another new male tiger to have cubs.
So, a male tiger may try to kill the cubs that are not his, and he will always defend the cubs that are his, no matter what.
But, male tigers will also not hesitate to kill the cubs of their ex-mates just in order to mate again with the females during the times when there are not mating partners available to them.
Do Tigers raise cubs together?
Tigers are solitary animals and so they don’t stay in groups. Every individual will stay single and will have their own territorial boundaries.
It is to be noted that the female tigers reach sexual maturity around 3 to 4 years of age, and male tigers reach sexual maturity around 4 to 5 years of age.
So, when the female enters into her heat phase and has no cubs to raise, she will then start to search for a potential mate for breeding.
Both males and females advertise their readiness to mate following a variety of courtship methods for attracting mates.
It is when tigers have found their potential mates, they will start mating as soon as possible following brief copulation repeated frequently for 5 or 6 days in general.
And this is the time when temporary bond forms between the male and female tigers for at least 10 to 20 days.
In general, soon after mating or after 10 to 20 days time period male tigers will leave the females in search of another potential mate as mating in tigers can occur at any time of year.
The tigress will give birth to the cubs and will rear the cubs all by herself. Most caring and nursing of the cubs can be credited to the mother and not the father tiger.
But, it is also to be noted here that the father will provide protection and care to the tigress and her cubs if he is still inside his territory.
But, if he has left the territory to mate with another female then there are little to no chances that he will care for the cubs as he will be whole-heartedly dedicated to giving birth to new cubs from a new tigress mate.
It is also to be noted that male tigers may have large territorial boundaries with numerous female mates inside that territory. In such cases, if the father tiger is inside his territory then he will help raise the cubs of all those females with whom he has mated recently.
Instances of tiger cubs being spotted alone with the father male tiger raising and caring for them have also been reported in the wild in some of the rare scenarios, like when the mother died when the cubs were still 2 months old.
Why do male Tigers kill cubs? Let’s Know
It is to be noted here that a female tiger may enter into her estrus (heat) phase after every three to nine weeks.
And, during that estrus phase, she is ready to mate and have cubs till the time her receptivity lasts for about three to six days.
But, if her cubs die or are killed she may opt to mate again to have cubs. So, male tigers can kill cubs that are not his, just in order to force the female to mate with him and have new cubs that are his.
So, in the case of tigers, the majority of the time, a new male might opt to kill all the cubs in order to take over the female for mating again.
Mother tiger may also opt to kill her cubs if she has only given birth to one or two cubs. Such a kind of behaviour is rarely seen and is only opted so that the tigress can enter into her heat phase so that she can give birth to more cubs on her next upcoming pregnancy.
So, in simple words, she may kill the cubs if she simply wants to mate with a new male.
A mother can also opt to kill a deformed cub and feed upon it. Here, there can be an evolutionary reason for the survival of the fittest by giving the other cubs a better chance of survival.
A female tiger may also opt to kill her cubs just in order to adjust her litter size to suit her ability to raise offspring in a competitive starving environment.
One another reason for the tigress killing her own cubs in the wild can be due to the lack of enough food even for them to eat and survive. In simple words, this is due to environmental pressures caused because of the competitive starving environment they are in.
Are Tigers protective of their cubs?
Tigresses tend to give birth to something around two to six cubs per litter after about 3 to 3.5 months of mating with a Tiger.
Tiger cubs are born blind, and they totally depend on their mother’s milk till they reach the age of 6 months.
Cubs do have a strong sense of smell and so they follow the scent of their mother. They are utterly dependent on their mother for food and protection.
As the cubs are unable to defend themselves, so they are very much vulnerable to getting attacked by other large animals like foxes, wild dogs, eagles, snakes, and other male tigers as well.
So, yes tigers are very protective and overdefensive for the cubs. The mother will girth birth and raise her cubs in a spot that’s secluded and covered from potential attackers.
In order to safeguard the cubs from the very beginning, she will give birth at protective places like caves, dens, dense grass-covered locations, crevices, or even in the hollow of a large tree.
A tigress will keep her cubs hidden from other tigers for around 6 months at least until they are old enough to feed on prey brought by their mother.
Generally, the father tiger will also protect the cubs if he is inside the territory of the female. But, the participation of the mother tiger in caring for and defending the cubs is the most (about 95%).
She will even move them to an all-new place if she suspects any kind of danger approaching the cubs in the region.
It has been also reported that mother will hide their cubs well by covering the entry point of the den or caves before she leaves them for going for a hunt.
They will stay with their mother for as long as two to three years. After that, they will leave their mom in search of new mates and territories of their own.
Why don’t Tiger fathers looks after their cubs?
As already said that it is not always mandatory that the male father tiger will look after the cubs.
You already know that when the cubs are born, the female is alone with the cubs. In general, the father usually has nothing to do with the birth or rearing of his cubs.
Tiger father usually doesn’t look after the cubs if he has found another mate and is now out of the mother’s territory.
It’s rare that a tiger father will kill his own cubs until and unless there is a scarcity of food and high competition in the ecosystem.
Especially in many cases, when the mother is not present, and at that time many male tigers (that are not fathers) will simply see cubs as food.
If the father is inside the territory of the mother, then chances are very high that he can look after the cubs.
Male tigers have large territorial boundaries with many female mates within the boundary. In that case, he may also care for the cubs.
Male tigers care for the cubs by bringing food and defending the territories from other intruding males and large animals.
But, the participation of the respective mother tigers in caring for their own cubs is the most than what the father does.
So, the scenario of a father tiger caring for the cubs is very rare in the wild. But, this doesn’t mean that the father won’t care for the cubs.
Under certain circumstances, like after the death of the mother, the father male tiger may also choose to care for and raise his cubs.
Such instance has been recorded in February 2014 in Ranthambore, India, where the father tiger (named T-25) was seen caring for the cubs after the death of the mother tiger (named T-5). He (T-25) was seen roaming with the cubs, and in fact, protecting the cubs.