How do tigers recognise each other?

Tiger scent marking a tree
Tiger scent marking a tree. Scent is a way tigers recognise each other.

Tigers do recognise each other and they probably achieve this by identifying other tigers by:
  1. appearance and
  2. scent (odour)
  3. sounds


Each tiger has unique markings including the marking on the face. Human can identify tigers by their coat markings but we are unsure if tigers can do it. It seems reasonably plausible that they can.


Tiger scent mark like all cats wild and domestic. The scent sprayed on objects is as good as a calling card stating the name and address (in human terms). It is clear that tigers recognise other tigers by the scent that they deposit on objects. Also, the scent will be on tigers as it emanates from scent producing glands at various locations on their body as is the case for domestic cats.

Scent glands for the domestic cat:


Well, neither the internet (as a source of information) nor my excellent reference book state that tigers can recognise the sounds of other tigers sufficiently to identify the tiger making the sounds. It would seem to me to be reasonable to suggest that it is possible. Tigers make a wide range of vocalisations to suit the occasion, from short to long range. 


The special mother/kitten relations probably results in both mother and kitten recognising each other's calls in the interests of protecting the vulnerable kittens. And they'll recognise their appearance mutually and smell.

Tigress and cub
Mother and cub. Image: Tazi

Fortunately, there is a study on domestic kittens recognising their mother's call. As all felines have a massive commonality in all areas of behaviour, I think that it is fair to suggest that tiger cubs recognise their mother's call.
We conclude that chirps emitted by mother cats at the nest represent a specific form of vocal communication with their young, and that kittens learn and respond positively to these and distinguish them from chirps of other mothers and from other cat vocalizations while still in the nest. - Mother-offspring recognition in the domestic cat: Kittens recognize their own mother's call [link]


The next question is: do grown up offspring continue to recognise their mother? We don't know for sure but my research indicates that both male and female tigers recognise their offspring when they are independent and adult. The major factor being scent and then appearance. Sounds may be a factor too.


Comments and feedback are welcome. Resources are rather limit on this topic so input from others is all the more valuable.


Popular posts from this blog

What do tigers eat in the jungle?

Mythology in China - Bai Hu (white tiger)

Can tigers meow?