Tiger Social Structure

Social structure of tigers.

Saying that tigers are solitary animals can make it appear that they do not have a social structure or that this is simplistic. Nothing further from reality: Tigers establish systematic relationships that make up a social organization, of course, typical of this animal species.


Generally speaking, Tigers roam alone when they reach adulthood because they obviously need maternal care while they are cubs. Nevertheless, they are very territorial and maintain ranges of territory characterized by the dense vegetation, availability of water and enough prey. Its territory constitutes an exclusive area of ​​distribution that contains one or several dens in which they rest or in which the females give birth and take care of their young.

It is true that males do not lead a group or streak, but in such case, they would be dominant. Tigers have territory ranges greater than those of tigresses, that is, those of males are up to 3 times larger than those of females but may overlap. Typically, the territory of a male overlaps with that of 1-3 tigresses. In this way, they have the “exclusive” right to mate with the females in their territory, and if another male enters their land, there will be intimidation first or even a physical fight to stop the intruder, usually involving the use of nails and teeth.

The size of the territories is related to the region where they are, the season and the number of dams available in them. If an area has a high density of prey the territories tend to be small since the probability of finding food is high within a few kilometers. On the contrary, those in areas with low density of prey are larger. The latter is the case of the Tigers living in Siberia, a Russian region where they usually have ranges around 800 to 1,200 square kilometers.

Social hierarchy of tigers.

Tigers fighting to establish dominance.When a tiger dies, others try to settle in the empty area, but this means that the Cubs in the territory are in grave danger of being killed by the colonizing male to mate with the available females in the area. When a young tiger seeks a place to settle, he can do it in the territory of another male and become a resident until he obtains his own, usually challenging the dominant male in the area. Sometimes they are lucky enough to find an empty place. The territories of the females do not typically overlap. However, they tend to settle in areas close to their mother’s domains.

To secure their domains, Tigers leave scent marks on trees and rocks.

How do males know that one territory belongs to another?

To secure their domains, Tigers leave scent marks on trees and rocks with a mixture of urine and musk or feces; Sometimes they just scratch the trees. Both sexes do this, but females increase the frequency of spraying before entering heat, to warn males that they are available.

In spite of the above, there are some documented cases of more complex social interactions. For example, several individuals sometimes collaborate when hunting or an adult of either sex shares its prey with one or more peers, in a somewhat friendly way. In such a situation, the male tiger allows females and cubs to feed first. A gentleman indeed!

To keep control of their territory, the Tigers patrol the vicinity to avoid the entrance of intruders. If they are not inspecting, they usually rest in the shade. They are active during the night, for this reason, they do not habitually interact with diurnal species. However, activity patterns may vary according to season and prey availability.


Understanding the social structure of tigers can be complex, and there are still plenty of questions about it regardless the many research done. The males dominate, and they are larger than females. However, the latter are incredibly fierce if protecting their offspring so they even scare males, which could overpower them, to leave their cubs alone.

Since Tigers are loners, mainly living an isolated existence, it is hard to view their social structure on a regular basis which can change during the various periods of their life. The females tend to be more tolerant of each other, and they live in smaller territorial ranges than the males.

Some research indicates that Tigers can recognize each other.

Having females within males’ territory makes it more convenient for mating because they come into contact with each other. Besides mating, Tigers are likely to take separate ways.

Some research indicates that Tigers can recognize each other. They may be willing to share prey they have killed with other males that are related, females that have had their cubs, and even those that have been in the area before and they recognize their scent. This behavior contrasts with most types of cats, especially lions, that the males eat first then what is left can be shared by those remaining as they go down the social hierarchy.

Tigers can be social with each other though depending on what is going on. Some of the vocal sounds they make indicate that they aren’t giving a warm welcome. They may hiss, meow or growl to get others to get out of their territory. Other types they will purr and make growling sounds to indicate interest and to draw others to them, especially for mating purposes.

The most intense relationship in Tigers is that of a mother with her offspring. She may have from 1 to 6 of them depending on the type of tiger. There is a dominant cub in the litter which is typically a male that sets the pace for playing, sleeping, and engaging in various other types of activities.









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