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Seeking the Genes
Following on from Newsletter No 64, "Tibo" the
white tigress is mating with "Shy Boy". At 37 months old, it is "Tibo's"
first full estrus.
TiBo's first mating with Shy Boy
High on the rocks "Ussuri", "Tibo's" sister, also 37
months old, is watching the mating. Ussuri is also in estrus
and has briefly mated with "Sariska", a smaller male.
Shy Boy bites the neck of Ussiri to steady himself during mating
However she has abandoned the mating with "Sariska"
and indicates she would prefer to mate with the
larger male, "Shy Boy".
"Shy Boy's" and "Tibo's" mating lasts 3 days. "Shy
Boy" then abandon's "Tibo" and heads into "Ussuri's" territory to
mate with "Ussuri."
The question I can't answer is, how does "Ussuri"
extend her estrus to accommodate "Shy Boy" when she has already been
in estrus for 4 days. If anyone has a similar example with lions,
leopards or tigers, could you please let me know.
I have an example of 2 tigers who mated for
10 days in Rhanthambore, but as far as I know there was just one
male and one female involved.
"Shy Boy" mates with "Ussuri" for 2 days and then
tigress "Shadow" lures him into her territory and "Shy Boy" begins
mating with "Shadow".
Shadow lies on her back after mating, to allow the sperm to travel
"Ussuri", unwilling to follow "Shy Boy" into
"Shadow" territory, immediately heads back to "Sariska" and mates with
him for 2 more days. "Ussuri's" estrus has now lasted 8 days.
"Shadow" mates with "Shy Boy" for 2 days and then
she abandons "Shy Boy" for an even bigger male, "Seatao".
Sariska with Ussuri
For 2 days "Shadow" tries to get to "Seatao", but is
prevented by a wire fence. Unable to get to "Seatao", she returns to
"Shy Boy" to mate for one more day. Shadow has apparently been able
to extend her estrus to 6 days.
Therefore it seems from the above that size and
compatibility play a role in choice of mate. it also seems that if a
certain male is not available immediately, tigresses can extend their estral period.
This behaviour suggests that in the same litter,
cubs can be sired by more than one male.
I suspect that if this occurs in Tigers, then it
would occur in all big cats.
If anyone can give me examples of cubs in the
same litter, but born from different fathers, I would
Tread Lightly on the Earth
Wow, John, what a fabulous e-mail, those
I had a black female house cat, she came
into heat and mated with my black and white
short haired male cat. then she went outside
and disappeared for a few days. In due
course we learned she was pregnant. Her
litter was half black and white short hairs
and one huge red striped long hair.
Also I actually know a woman who had two lovers,
one was a black man and one a white man. She had
non-identical twin boys, one is black and the
other is blonde and blue eyed. She is blonde and
blue eyed. Her doctor felt the twins came from
different sperm. She married the black man and
their daughter is moca color with light hair and
light eyes. There is no trace of blackness in
the white twin.
Not the same as big cats, but it does seem possible.
Also women in a group tend to line up their menses
with the most aggressive female. It seems that
nature would allow females to extend estrus to
accommodate the most genetically desirable mate.
I wish I could have seen that "dance"
All the best,
I know that with household cats they can do this thing called
induced ovulation. This means that the cat will only release an
egg whilst mating to ensure that the male cat she is mating with
will be the father. However if another male cat came along he
can cause her to release more eggs this creates litters with
Thanks for the interesting newsletter.
In answer to your question about cubs
being born after being sired by different fathers Ė this is
very common in feral cats and I have witnessed this first
I have 2 feral cats that I rescued and
raised from kittens. Both are sisters from the same litter,
however the tabby one looks distinctly like a male cat that
I saw in the neighbourhood and the other (black and white),
looks exactly like another male cat in the neighbourhood.
The funny thing is that I saw both male cats visiting the
mommy cat even after the kitties were born and am positive
that her kitties were sired by both males.
I donít see why tigers should be any
different. Would you not think that as they have numerous
eggs to be fertilised, that the possibility exists for the
eggs to be fertilised by different fathers?
The resemblance to both male cats is
quite distinctive, even though the mommy cat is black.
I hope this explanation is not too
simplistic for you, but unfortunately I do not have tigers
in my neighbourhood!
Hope this helps,
Cubs from the same litter, having multiple fathers is
something that is well documented, not only for Feline
species but also e.g. for Canines. In Feline species, the
actual ovulation is triggered by the act of mating.
Also in humans cases of twins with two different fathers are
known. This phenomena has a name: heteropaternal