Tiger Instincts regarding “playing” in the wild

Reply Tue 8 Sep, 2020 09:33 am
Not sure if this is the right place but this seems like a good website to ask questions about wildlife, if I should be using a different website please let me know, thanks! I had a few questions about the instincts of Tigers compared to other felines. Tigers are distinct from Lions in that they are solo animals, and they gradually become more independent and unless there is enough prey and territory, the mother generally abandons them at some point. There is generally no concept of “pride” once they are adults. As time passes the abandoned cubs grow apart as well, and separate from each other and at most only communicate through scent markings. That being said, how do tigers play? One thing I find interesting about felines, is they all have an instinct to play when they are not hunting, mating, or sleeping. This seems to be true in both domestic and feral small and big cats. House cats for example wrestle and play fight all the time. Lions do the same, probably much less though since they are much more focused on survival than a house cat. I assume this is “training” is instinctual for them to practice their reflexes, skills, and in general I guess it’s a what they are instinctually inclined to, just like kneading and sharpening their claws and licking themselves clean. That being said, do tigers not have this instinct? If they are solo animals, how do they play. They have nobody to play fight with or wrestle with. They really don’t have anyway to practice their skills and it seems like once they are independent, they simply put their skills to use when hunting. I know that hunting is of course the best way to use their skills, as it’s the end goal. But it’s clear that other felines “prep” and practice in order to always be on game. They in a way create different scenarios in which they wrestle and are always prepared for all angles and scenarios of a fight. It may also just be amusing for them to play fight. What I’m wondering is do they simply have the urge to play but choose not to because they understand the concept of giving it up for independence? Or are they simply not inclined like other felines to play?
Do they have replacement behaviors that allow them to “play” or practice in different ways? Or is this not instinct at all and do tigers simply view the concept of playing as a primitive thing only meant for babies? If someone could please let me know, that would be great, thank you!
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Reply Tue 8 Sep, 2020 09:36 am
Never thought about it. Good topic, though.
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Reply Tue 8 Sep, 2020 12:13 pm
My guess would be that once they are no longer cubs they lose the instinct to play. Ideally they would have honed their skills well enough before leaving to fend for themselves and no longer have the need to play.
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