Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why Tigers eat porcupine?

Catching a porcupine is very dangerous affair for any cat. Tigers and Leopards are seen with porcupine quills struck around their face and in legs. So far in my life I saw four different cases where young Tigers killed the porcupine and saw a young male tiger with fresh porcupine quill for almost a month. In thta period he killed and ate minimum four porcupines.
Why they do it??
All the tigers I saw and photographed doing it were under three years of age, some were still with their mother. Curiosity makes them to inquire any rustling noise and chase any moving object. Very similar behaviour is observed in domestic kittens. Once we saw  three cubs following their mother on a hill when suddenly one of them heard some rustling sound in the grass, ran to it and came out with a porcupine dangling in her jaws. We think at that time porcupine was still alive but because her whole head was under his jaws so she made no noise and as tiger was rushing to join the other siblings we have no idea about his, porcupine, struggle.
Another time a cub ran in tall grass and came out with porcupine. One of the male of Tulsi's first litter was killing porcupine almost for a month. Every week we saw and photographed him with new porcupine quill on his body. He became very skilled hunter as far as porcupine were concerned.We never saw his other sibling with any porcupine quill. It could be because the other sibling was stronger, bigger and always first on kill to eat a major portion of the kill.
On another time we saw this 16 months old cub playing with porcupine and finished it in less than thirty minutes without leaving even any quill attach to the meat. He ate all.
I believe this is all their learning process. They learn their lessons as they grow. An adult tigers knows the danger involved in it so he never touches them as in the case of snakes but that story some other time.

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