Several massive feline friends exist throughout the world. Ranging from record breaking house kitties to huge wild tigers, the world is filled with incredible cats. But what is the heaviest cat of all time?
An impressive exotic hybrid is the heaviest cat in the world! In fact, this big kitty weighs more than a grand piano! We discuss all the details about this record-breaking cat below!
What Is a Liger?
Before we introduce you to Hercules the liger, we should first discuss the details of the impressive liger species itself. The liger is a stunning hybrid; it’s the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger. Not only are these exotic cats incredible, but they are also known for growing larger than both of their parents. This is not often seen with crossbreeds, so the liger’s massive size is part of what makes it so special.
The first liger is believed to have been bred in the 19th century in India. However, the liger title was first given to these cats in the 1930s. Most ligers are a result of purposeful breeding, but they are often sterile and unable to be successfully bred. However, an offspring of a liger mother and a lion father was born in Russia in 2012. Some of these impressive cats may not be sterile after all!
Are Ligers Found In The Wild?
As we mentioned above, the liger is usually only a result of purposeful breeding or being raised in captivity. Lions and tigers do not cross paths naturally in the wild, so they would never have the opportunity to mate. You will not see a liger on any safari tours, as they only exist in captivity today. If you want to see a liger in person, you will need to travel to a sanctuary or zoo.
How Big Do Ligers Get?
The liger is often larger than both of their parents and often weighs up to 800 pounds! Studies are still underway about why ligers are often so big, but it is believed that imprinted genes are responsible. Essentially, only one set of genes from one parent is expressed, rather than both sets playing a role. This means that no matter how small one parent is, their genes may not be expressed when it comes to size. However, studies on this topic are still underway.
Hercules – The 922 Pound Liger
Now that you have an understanding of the massive liger, we can introduce the record-breaking cat named Hercules. Hercules is a 922-pound liger that lives in captivity in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Hercules was raised at the popular Myrtle Beach Safari Wildlife Preserve. He is the result of an accidental breeding of a male lion and female tiger at the Miami zoo.
Some say ligers reach their monstrous size because they never stop growing, but this is a myth. Ligers stop growing around six years of age, but, up until this age, they have massive growth spurts. Since Hercules broke the weight record at 14, it’s safe to say he’s done growing.
When Did Hercules Win the Guinness Record?
Hercules set the record for being the largest cat in the world in 2016. Though a few impressive ligers have been born since this time, no cat has come for his title. However, there was once a liger that is said to have weighed more than Hercules!
A male liger named Nook once weighed close to 1,400 pounds! He was raised at the Valley of the King’s Animal Sanctuary in Wisconsin. He arrived there at just three months old. Nook was the result of irresponsible breeding of wild cats by inexperienced owners. It’s wonderful that he ended up in a rescue that could care for him properly.
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