Liger Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Gwen Ellsworth

April has a master's degree in psychology and has experience teaching special populations from preschoolers to adults.

What do you get when you mix red paint with blue paint? Purple paint, right? What do you get when you mix a lion with a tiger? A liger? Is it real or not? Read on to find out in this lesson on the liger.

What is a Liger?

It is possible for a lion and tiger to breed and produce cubs. When a male lion breeds with a female tigress, their cubs are called ligers.

The liger is a mix of a male lion and female tigress.

Scientists believe that ligers have never existed in the wild and never will. This is partly because it's not likely to happen, but also because there are very few places, if any, on earth where the living areas of lions and tigers cross with each other, so they would probably never meet.

However, ligers have been bred in captivity, which is an environment controlled by people. The first ligers might have existed as long ago as 1798 in India. Today, several real ligers exist in different parts of the world, including America.

This painting demonstrates ligers might have existed in 1798.

Biggest Cats in the World

Lions and tigresses are pretty big cats, but their offspring are even bigger. In fact, a liger usually grows to be the size of both parents put together, like 800-900 pounds. That's as big as a horse and makes them the largest cat in the world.

Why so big? Scientists believe it is because specific inherited growth hormones, which creates bigger animals when male lions and female tigers mix. Hormones are chemicals in our bodies that decide what we look like and how we grow and act.

Like Their Parents

Do you have some features like your mother and other like your father? Maybe you have your mom's brown eyes and your father's love for sports, for example. Ligers also have traits of both parents. They roar like a lion and chuff like a tiger, which is the cat's friendly way to say hello and sounds like a low rumbling sound. Ligers enjoy swimming and playing in the water, like their mothers, and they are social animals like their fathers. This means they like to be with other ligers, tigers, and lions.

Liger fur is white, gold, or brown, and it usually has light stripes and spots like a tiger, although sometimes adult liger stripes fade away as they get older. Males sometimes have a mane like their lion fathers. And their bellies are always light, like both parents.

This female and male liger have a lot of traits similar to their lion and tiger parents.

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