Can Tigers Mate With Lions: Ligers and Tigons, a Guide

But wait, aren’t lions and tigers on different continents? So how can tigers mate with lions? Well, yes they are – mostly in different areas. And they would be seen as competitors in the wild, but there are circumstances when they do mate and produce offspring.

Let’s give you a quick answer, then we’ll get into more detail on their mating patterns and much more.

Tigers and lions can mate, and produce hybrids. Successful mating between a male lion and a female tiger produces “Liger”. And mating between a male tiger and a female Lion produces “Tigon”. However, most of this mating is done in captivity or is inseminated and does not occur in the wild.

With many hybrid animals becoming popular, many animals have caught the attraction of animal lovers around the world.

Some famous hybrid animals that people admire or see as some exotic luxury are hybrids that come from cross-breeding. Dogs are a classic example of this. Another rare one though is breeding between tigers and lions.

Here’s more information on animals cross breeding in the wild.

So this brings us to the more specific questions of – can tigers mate with lions? or… can lions mate with tigers.

Tigers can mate with lions

Not only can tigers mate with lions, but they can also produce some interesting offspring.

Hybrids between tigers and lions are becoming something of trophy animal that’s sold for huge profits – and has created several zoo attraction sites.

But the most interesting thing about their mating pattern is that tigers and lions don’t mate naturally or in the wild often.

Mating between tigers and lions (or vice versa), does not occur naturally …but is a result of insemination. Or, contrived mating under captivity.

This is because lions are from Africa and Tigers are from Asia and, generally speaking, they have no way of interacting, let alone mating in the wild.

So mating that occurs between a tiger and a lion is a man-made occurrence, and not considered a natural species. However, the succinct answer is yes, mating and producing hybrids is possible between a lion and a tiger.

ligers and tigons mating results

Ligers and tigons

Depending on who the mother and the father are, the name used to address or call these hybrids will differ.

When tigers mate with lions and produce hybrids it’s called a “Liger” or “Tigon”. The father species is denoted first in the hybrid name.


When the male (father) is a lion and the female (mother) is a tiger, the hybrid is called “Liger”.


If the male (father) is a tiger and the female (mother) is a tiger, the hybrid is called “Tigon”.

However, there are several characteristic differences and special markings between a tigon and a liger.

These differences arise because of the mating partners. Meaning, depending on who the mother and the father are denotes the characteristics the resulting hybrid will have.

image source: pinterest

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Mating between a male lion and a female tiger 

Mating that occurs between a male lion and a female tiger is what produces ligers. 

There are approximately 100 ligers that exist in the world. And the largest liger that exists in the world weighs around 900 pounds. Ligers normally weigh twice as much as an average tiger or lion.

When comparing this mating pattern of producing ligers (male lion and female tiger), these hybrids are understood to suffer several health conditions.

One of the main physical characteristics unique to ligers or hybrids because of this mating is gigantism. Gigantism is where the liger never stops growing and expands in size.

To date, there is no proper evidence on why ligers or hybrids suffer this condition. But because of gigantism ligers suffer a number of weaknesses, such as bone, joint, and muscle issues.

When considering the mix of the parent’s species, ligers inherit 50/50 traits from the characteristics of a lion and a tiger.

They have a tawny (light brown) color coating and skin with the stripes of a tiger. If you saw a liger, you would distinctly notice both a tiger and a lion in one animal.

Mating between a male tiger and a female lion

Mating that happens between a male lion and a female tiger produces a tigon. Tigons also have similar traits to ligers, but they are smaller. Tigons in contrast to ligers receive a growth-inhibiting hormone from both parents, so because of this, they are much smaller than an adult lion or tiger.

Is mating between tiger and lions healthy?

Firstly, it’s very rare that different species would want to cross or mate with each other. And more specifically, if it’s species that are not meant to naturally breed together, the consequences are not only unnatural, they can be tragic.

This is why ligers and tigons suffer from several genetic defects. They generally suffer, grow weaker, and inevitably die at a younger age.

The mortality rate of ligers and tigons is relatively high. Often the hybrids from a lion and a tiger mating suffer from frequent bouts of cancer, organ failure, and other body deformities.

It has to be said that, especially with ligers weighing heavier than average cubs, it makes it very difficult for the mother tiger to carry them during labor. The mother can potentially fo go through labor complications – often requiring a C-section and sometimes ending with the mother dying during labor.

Also, males of the liger and tigons are sterile so they can’t reproduce. However, the female ligers and tigons, unlike many hybrids, can reproduce with a male tiger and a male lion.

So the reproduction ratio of these hybrids is very low and unreliable to the cat species.

Ligers and tigons do not contribute to the biodiversity of the cat species. The association of Zoos and Aquariums also recognizes that these mating and hybrids are harming the educational efforts and conservation of big cat species.

image of a tigers face and a lions face next to each other

So why do lions and tigers mate?

It’s very rare for lions and tigers to mate out of attraction or species diversification purposes. Mainly as they mostly live in different geographic regions, and they would be seen as natural competitors. Those that reproduce are done so in captivity by insemination, or by coercion.

Much of the forceful, or contrived mating and breeding are carried out mainly for the purpose of exploitation, and profits.

Find out if the king of the Jungle actually does live in the Jungle.

To close

Hybrids arise from the expectations of many Zoo visitors who want to see exciting and exotic animals, or from the curiosity of science. These unhealthy mating practices are encouraged all too often.

In the same way that ivory is handled, if only visitors ceased paying to see such unfortunate hybrids, maybe these brutal acts could end for good.

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