The life cycle of a tiger starts with sexual reproduction, which results in the birth of cubs. The cubs mature into full-grown tigers within 2 1/2 years. Tigers live to be around 15 years old in the wild and 20 years old in captivity.
Tigers are the largest members of the cat family. They are solitary animals and only spend time with other members of their species while they are young or when they are ready to mate. Like most other mammals, they breed through sexual reproduction. When a female is ready to mate, she uses her urine to mark her scent and makes loud vocalizations to attract a mate. Males and females mate for several days and then part ways. The fertilized egg gestates for 100 to 112 days.
Litters usually consist of three or four cubs. Tiger cubs are blind when they are born; therefore, they rely heavily on their mothers. They nurse for 6 months and continue to live with their mothers for up to 2.5 years. Half of all cubs born in the wild do not live to adulthood. When they reach adulthood, they gradually gain independence and eventually leave to lead solitary lifestyles. However, most young adult tigers do not survive the transition to independence. As adults, tigers usually mate every 2 years.