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Liger vs Tigon: 6 key differences explained

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Ligers, tigers and bears, oh my! Over the years, people have flocked to the big cats for their novelty, size and unique appearance. Despite the interest, few people know the difference between a liger and a tigon. These big cat hybrids result from matings between tigers and lions, each belonging to a different male-female pairing. Ligers and tigons do not occur naturally in the wild because their ranges do not overlap. However, just because their ranges don't overlap doesn't mean these unique species don't have historical precedent. In 1798, French naturalist Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire acquired a color from the offspring of lions and tigers during a trip to India. In addition, the term "liger" is nearly 90 years old, further evidence of long-standing interest in lion-tiger hybrids.

Mating between lions and tigers has occasionally happened by accident, thanks to the rise of zoos and captive breeding programs. In addition, some breeders purposely put animals together in the hope of producing hybrid offspring. That said, many conservationists disapprove of the practice due to the many health complications of hybrids. Despite this, there are still more than 100 ligers in the world, and the number of tigers and tigers is small and unknown. In this article, we will compare the characteristics of ligers and tigons and discuss six key differences that distinguish the two species. Also, we'll wrap up by answering some frequently asked questions about ligers and tigers.

Comparing ligers and tigers

To further complicate matters, breeding between ligers and tigons can produce a second generation of hybrids. For many years, researchers believed that all ligers and tigons were sterile, effectively rendering them infertile. However, recent breeding work suggests this is not the case. There are now multiple examples of female ligers and tigons becoming pregnant and giving birth to viable offspring. Although these second-generation cats are not relevant to this article, we provide brief descriptions of two known hybrid cats.


Litigon is the result of the mating of a male lion and a female tigon. The first known litigon was born in 1971 at the Alipore Zoo in Kolkata, India. Although few in number, they are estimated to grow up to 11 feet long and weigh up to 798 pounds.

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Ligers represent the offspring of a male lion and a female liger. In 1943, the Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich, Germany witnessed the birth of the first liger. currently no estimates

How big can they grow.


Tiger tigers arise when a male tiger mates with a female tiger. The first known jaguar occurred in 1983, when a tiger was born at the Shambhala Reserve in Acton, California.


Huhu is the name given to the offspring of a male tiger and a female liger. Only a small number of tigers are kept in captivity, most of them in the United States.

Liger tiger tiger
parents Lion and Tigress male tiger female lion
size 9.8 to 11.8 feet long
710 to 1,210 lbs
4 feet to 9 feet long
200 to 500 lbs
colors and markings Yellow-orange to beige with false stripes on back and spotted belly with black, dark brown or sandy markings Darker orange white belly for more prominent, darker markings
mane Males have short or no mane male mane short
health problems gigantism obesity Dwarfism Birth Problems Due to Cubs' Size
bite force 900 psi 400 to 450 psi

6 Key Differences Between Ligers and Tigers

Ligers and Tigers: Parents

Both ligers and tigers represent offspring of lions and tigers. However, they are caused by different parental pairings. To breed a liger, a male tiger must mate with a female tiger. On the other hand, a male tiger must mate with a female lion to become a tigon. Each big cat's individual name was created by taking part of the parent's name, with the male's name appearing first. Thus, "lion/tiger" produces "liger", and "tiger/lion" produces "tigon". As long as this formula is followed, it doesn't matter which lion or tiger is used to make a liger or tigon.

Ligers and Tigers: Size

The biggest and most obvious difference between ligers and tigons is their respective body sizes. Of the two, the liger is significantly larger. In fact, ligers are the largest cats in the world. Ligers typically range in length from 9.8 to 11.8 feet, and non-obese specimens can weigh from 710 pounds to over 900 pounds. However, a fat liger can easily reach 1,210 pounds. For example, a liger named Hercules holds the record for the largest living non-obese cat on Earth, weighing in at an incredible 922 pounds. Without the growth-limiting genes normally derived from lionesses, ligers grow larger than either parent species. Since neither male lions nor female tigers possess this gene, liger offspring continue to grow throughout their lives.

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Meanwhile, tigons never outgrow either parent. t In fact, while they often measure the same size as either parent, they occasionally measure smaller. The average tigon is between 4 and 9 feet long and weighs between 200 and 500 pounds. This size difference depends on which genes are more dominant in offspring. If lion genes are dominant, tigons will usually grow smaller. If tiger genes are dominant, they can grow to the size of an adult tiger.

Ligers and Tigons: Colors and Stripes

Although ligers and tigons look similar in color and markings, a trained eye can spot several key differences between them. Generally speaking, ligers are tawny in color and more lion-like in color than tiger-like. They have faint stripes on their backs and spots on their bellies. Most of their markings are black, brown or sand beige. Tiger tigers, on the other hand, look more like their tiger fathers than their lion mothers. Their fur is usually dark orange, and they have darker stripes on their backs than ligers. Tigons typically have a spotted white underbelly and display deeper and more prominent markings than the rosettes of ligers.

Ligers and Tigress: Manes

Both male ligers and tigons have the potential to grow manes. However, that doesn't mean their manes are always eye-catching. Also, there is no guarantee that some males will grow manes. For example, there are male ligers with and without manes. If the liger did grow a mane, it wouldn't be as full as a typical lion's mane. For example, Hercules, the world's largest liger, has no mane. When a liger does grow into an adult, it usually appears in the same color as their body. Tigons, on the other hand, almost always have long manes. That is, its mane looks more like a tiger's mane and less full-on than a lion's.

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Ligers and Tigers: Health Concerns

Like many hybrid offspring, ligers and tigons face many health issues. Congenital disabilities are common in infants, and many do not live to adulthood. However, both ligers and tigons face specific health issues related to the specific genes they inherit from their parents. For example, ligers often suffer from gigantism. This is because they did not inherit the growth-suppressing gene from either parent. Additionally, this makes them particularly prone to obesity, so ligers require a lot of exercise and care to make sure they don't overeat. Tigons, meanwhile, often suffer from dwarfism due to inheriting growth-suppressing genes from lionesses. Also, congenital disabilities and complications occur more often in tigons due to the larger size of the cubs. Their large size puts greater pressure on female lions to give birth, leading to higher mortality rates for both lionesses and babies.

Ligers and Tigers: Bite Force

Bite force is another difference that distinguishes ligers from tigons. Their bite force varies with the size of the head. On average, ligers have wider and larger heads than tigons, up to 18 inches across. Thanks to its more prominent head, the liger delivers greater crushing force with each bite. It is estimated that ligers have a bite force of up to 900 psi. Due to their smaller size, tigons have less than half the bite force of ligers. The average bite force of a tigon is estimated to be between 400 and 450 psi.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ligers and Tigers

How long can ligers and tigers live?

There are no studies that can estimate the lifespan of tigers. If they survive to adulthood, ligers typically live between 13 and 18 years. However, some specimens can live for more than 20 years.

How Much Do Ligers Eat?

Due to their large size and large appetites, ligers will continue to eat long after most cats have finished their meal. A liger typically eats up to 50 pounds of raw meat at a time.


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