Interesting Animal Hybrids 1 – Big Carnivores

In recent years, man has unraveled many secrets in animal biodiversity and genetics. The hybrid phenomenon is one. There are a variety of hybrids in the animal kingdom, cutting across many classes. Some are products of natural forces. The others are products of the human inquisition. These hybrids are unique in their own right and possess a blend of features that make them intriguing beasts. Below is a list of the hybrids of some carnivores.


Ligers are a cross between two of the most regal big cats on the planet – a male lion and a female tiger. Lions and tigers belong to the same genus panthera. Ligers are the biggest cats on the planet. Some weigh as much as 500kg or more at the farthest end of the scale. Therefore, they are slightly larger than their parents. They are also the longest cats from head to tip of the tail. This large size is due to the absence of the growth inhibitory gene that keeps size in check in intra-specie offspring. In lions, the gene is present in the female. However, in its absence in the liger, there is no check. Ligers all live in some form of captivity – whether it be zoos or personal ownership. Approximately a hundred are in existence.

The appearance of a liger exudes both lion and tiger traits, although it is often more inclined to the former. Ligers also possess traits like the tiger’s revelry in swimming, and the lion’s social nature. However, the most interesting of all is their ability to reproduce. Most hybrids, due to the dissimilarity in their chromosomal make-up (especially their sex chromosomes) are often sterile. For the liger, this is not the case. Female ligers have birthed liligers and tiligers. However, these offspring mixes are rare.


Coywolves are a hybrid mix of coyote and wolf, primarily. Dog genes may be in the mix as well – although in much lesser proportions. The members of the Canid family share a lot of chromosomes in common and can interbreed. Coywolves’ weight range from 35 to almost 50 pounds. They are smaller than wolves but larger than coyotes.

A coywolf has a strong lupine body – albeit smaller than the wolf’s – legs longer, and jaws more powerful than the coyote’s. In addition, it has a big skull and short, round ears.

Coywolves are social like wolves. They vocalize like their two parents. Unlike many other hybrid animals, coywolves can reproduce freely in the wild. Records of interbreeding between the two species date as far back as the 20th century.


On the other hand, if a male tiger’s genes, and a female lion’s are mixed, the offspring would be a tigon. Like ligers, male tigons are sterile and female tigons are fertile. However, it is noteworthy that they are smaller in comparison because the female lion’s growth inhibitory gene is expressed in them. They never exceed their parent’s size. The coat color of a tigon lies between the lion’s and the tiger’s fur color. There may be subtle differences in looks among individuals due to the subspecies of the parent animals involved.

Tigons live for shorter periods than their parents and are susceptible to developing malignancies along the way. They can also be quite aggressive in terms of behavior. In addition, due to the mix of genes present, they are predisposed to manifest contrasting traits found in their parents. An example is the gregariousness of the lion versus the solitude of the tiger. This conflict increases the susceptibility to suffering from depression.


The leopon is a cross between a male leopard and a female lion. The body of the leopon bears a close resemblance to a leopard’s. However, unlike leopards, the spots of leopons are lighter than the former’s dark spots. The base coat is, however, similar to the lion. Male leopards possess manes – albeit less hairy ones than lions. Therefore, summarily, a leopon can be described as having the head of a lion and the body of a leopard. Leopons – especially the male ones – may exceed the size of their fathers, but they are still below the lion’s size. They have stout legs, typical of the leopard.

Much like the liger, leopons also exhibit a blend of their parent’s behaviors. They are adept climbers, eager swimmers, and sociable cats as well. The leopon is particularly interesting because of its reproductive ability. Of the big cat hybrids, leopons are the only ones whose two sexes are capable of reproduction. Due to this unique attribute, the leopon is arguably the most successful big cat hybrid.

If the sexes of the parents were reversed, the hybrid would be a lipard. Lipards are much smaller than leopons.


Grolars are a cross between polar bears and grizzlies. They are also known as pizzly bears. Grolars occur in captivity as well as in the wild. With territories of the parent species overlapping at certain areas due to the melting of the polar ice caps – among other reasons, it is not a surprise that these two interbreed on occasion if the conditions are right. The first sight of a grolar was in the year 2006.

Like many other hybrids, the physical traits of a grolar are a mix of their parents. Firstly, their fur color lies between the white color of the polar bear and the dark brown color of the grizzly. It is a somewhat creamy-white color. In addition, their grizzly genes afford them better acclimatization to warmer climates compared to polar bears. However, they may not thrive just as well as the latter at very low temperatures. In addition, their anatomy is not as suited as the polar bear’s for ice and swimming, although they often exhibit the hunting traits of their white-furred parents.

1 reply on “Interesting Animal Hybrids 1 – Big Carnivores”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *