Tiger Sex Life & Reproduction: What You Need To Know

Learning more about the sex life of tigers has been something of interest in recent years as more species become extinct and researchers need to see how often new cubs are being born. 

Tiger Sex Life & Reproduction: What You Need To Know

Tigers in the wild have specific patterns and behaviors when it comes to finding a mate and impregnating a female tiger, or tigress as they are referred to in this piece.

This piece will give you insight into the private life of tigers, their sex life, and the reproduction cycle. 

Tiger Sex Life

Below we look at the sex life of male and female tigers, going through the different stages of sexual interactions and behaviors that can be observed.

Finding A Mate

Tigers use scent to identify other tigers individually. When a tigress is in estrus or her reproductive cycle, tigers follow her scent until they find her.

If two tigers from different territories are following the same tigress one may back down rather than encroach on a different territory or the tigers may fight one another until one runs away, is seriously injured, or is killed. 

These battles are common in areas where tiger populations are very densely packed into smaller areas. The winner of the fight claims sexual rights over the tigress. 

Tigresses show that they are receptive to the tiger by pacing, rubbing, and rolling as well as also vocalizing her receptiveness.

Tigresses can roar repeatedly to show how receptive they are.

On occasion, the tigress may also become aggressive to the approaching tiger but this should not be misconstrued as it is just another behavior used to show receptiveness. 

Once tigers find a mate they will circle each other to signal the start of their courtship.


During the sexual interaction, the tiger catches the scruff of the tigress’s neck to prevent her from moving or running away.

The penetration process is painful for the tigress and this is why she needs to be pinned down by the tiger.

Immobilizing the tigress prevents her from slapping the tiger and also helps the tiger to balance himself during the sexual act.


Copulation can last anywhere from seconds to over ten minutes. Each engagement will vary. Typically tigers mate over three to four days.

Over this time period, they can mate almost 250 times, which is almost every 5 to 7 minutes.

This frequency may seem impossible however the Baculum bone in the tiger’s penis facilitates this happening so often.

Mating Behaviors

During copulation, both the tiger and tigress are extremely vocal. The sounds they make can vary being anything from a hiss to a loud growl or grunt.

After mating for several days the tiger leaves and does not return until the female is receptive again however sometimes the mates may stay together for up to a month if they are in a lowly populated area with not many other suitable mates around.

Mating patterns

Mating patterns can vary between the subspecies of tigers but most will mate as frequently as mentioned above.

Tiger density hugely influences the mating rituals as some less populated species, such as the critically endangered Siberian tiger can struggle to find a mate.

Tigers will have multiple mates during their life.

Breeding Seasons

The breeding season of tigers depends on the latitude that they inhabit. Tigers that live in more tropical climates tend to mate all year round.

The peak breeding season is typically between November to April as these months are cooler. 

Tigers that are living in less tropical regions, such as the Amur tiger, tend to breed by season, typically in the winter months.

Again these tigers also have a peak breeding time which is April to June.

Amur tigers have a very low population and so with such a short window for mating, it is clear to see how unlikely it is that the Amur tiger population will ever thrive again as they may not even find a mate during these months. 

False Mating

When a tigress is not in estrus she can deceive attacking males by engaging in what is called false mating.

This often won’t result in pregnancy and is used to protect her cubs or herself from attack. 

Reproduction Cycle For Tigers 

Reproduction Cycle For Tigers 

Here we outline the key stages of reproduction in tigers.

Sexual Maturity

When tigers are born they spend the first two years of life by their mother’s side, learning how to hunt and how to interact with other tigers.

After these two years, they start life by themselves.

Tigresses reach their sexual maturity between three to five years of age and tigers reach their sexual maturity at the age of four to five.

Once sexual maturity is reached tigers begin to search for a ate and have the ability to pick up on scents of females who are sexually mature also. 

Estrus Cycle

Tigresses enter estrus every three to nine weeks. Estrus is the time of a tigress’s reproduction cycle when they are able to conceive and are receptive.

In cool climates tigresses are only in estrus in the winter months and in warmer and more tropical climates they are in estrus throughout the year but mating is most common during the cooler months. 

A number of days before estrus the tigress develops a scent that advertises her receptiveness to tigers, this is the scent followed by male tigers as mentioned earlier.

The tigress can also become vocal during estrus to help attract a mate. 


Once impregnated, the tigress will be pregnant for three and a half months before giving birth to one or a litter of cubs, which can be up to seven cubs but the average is three.

Their pregnancy is not clear until the last 10 to 12 days. Tigresses wait 18 to 24 months between pregnancies.

Final Thoughts 

The sex lives of the tiger species are incredibly interesting.

By learning more, scientists and animal conservationists can hopefully find ways to help tigers to produce more offspring each year to prevent more species from becoming extinct. 

Joe Edwards