Baby tiger cubs are some of the cutest felines in the world. But did you know that one president tried to keep tiger cubs as his presidential pet or that each litter of tiger cubs has a dominant sibling?
Keep reading to see five adorable pictures and to learn five astounding facts about baby tigers!
#1: A U.S. President had Two Tiger Cubs as His Presidential Pet!
President Martin Van Buren was the only president in U.S. history to have two adorable baby tiger cubs as his presidential pets. Van Buren received these two tiger babies as a gift from the Sultan of Oman. However, Congress and Van Buren sparred over who actually owned the cubs.
His furry friends’ residency in the White House was short-lived, though, since Congress argued that the tiger cubs were a gift to the United States and not to Van Buren himself. The animals were removed from the White House and relocated to the Washington Zoo.
#2: Tiger Cubs are Born Completely Blind
Baby tiger cubs are unable to see for the first five to ten days outside of their mother’s womb. This is because they are born with a film over their eyes that takes several days to rupture. During this time, the tigers depend on their sense of smell and their mother’s help to navigate the world around them.
Even once the film ruptures and the tiny felines are able to open their eyes, they still cannot see very well. It can take up to two weeks longer before their vision is fully developed. While baby tigers are vulnerable, mother tigers protect them from predators. They do this by hiding them away in safe areas and only traveling away from her den to hunt.
#3: Each Litter has a Dominant Cub
Each time a female tiger has a litter of cubs, there is a dominant cub in the pack. Most commonly, this cub is male, though. However, unlike other animals, the dominant baby is not always the largest in the pack. Researchers observed that their mothers favored dominant cubs and often led play among the other cubs in their litter. They also typically are the first to eat and consume the most food when compared to their siblings.
Tiger cubs generally stay close to their mothers for the first 18 to 24 months of their lives. Conversely, dominant cubs are known to venture away from their packs as early as six months of age.
Most baby tigers are still dependent on their mothers to provide them with food at 6 months of age. While they are learning to hunt, most cannot survive without the prey their mother kills and shares with them. Their hunting skills get better by 8 to 10 months of age. Much of their time is spent playing with their siblings and mother, but the habits they develop throughout play, such as pouncing and chasing, are training them up to be successful hunters.
#4: One Male Tiger in India Adopted a Litter of Baby Tiger Cubs
Typically, male tigers have little to do with the babies they sire. In fact, male tigers often kill a female’s cubs for the opportunity to mate with her. However, one male tiger on a wildlife reserve in India was observed by researchers caring for four tiger cubs after their mother died.
Researchers noted that this male tiger was seen sharing his prey with the babies and often interacts with them, showing no signs of being a threat to the babies. It was even noted that after he started caring for the babies, he began traveling shorter distances away from them. This is a behavior typically only seen in tiger mothers.
#5: Only About Half of Baby Tigers Reach Age Two
Even though mother tigers fiercely protect their young, only about half of each litter of tiger cubs lives to reach the age of two. This can be attributed to several factors, but the most common reasons are scarcity of food, disease, predators, and even adult tigers who kill a female’s young for the chance to mate with her.
Tiger cubs that survive past age two usually live to be around 15 years old in the wild or 20 years in captivity.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Fly_dragonfly
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What do tiger cubs eat?
Tiger cubs eat their mother’s milk for the first six to eight weeks. After that, they survive off of food their mothers hunt for them. They learn how to hunt by imitation.
How big are baby tiger cubs?
Baby tigers are usually born weighing anywhere from 1.75 to 3 pounds, on average.
How long does it take for a baby tiger to be born?
Female tigers are pregnant for about 3.5 months before giving birth to tiger cubs. It is hard to tell when a tiger is pregnant since she won’t appear pregnant until about 10 to 11 days before she gives birth.
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