View Full Version : Tiger: Sense of Smell - Flehmen Response

Sabyasachi Patra
09-06-2009, 11:52 AM
The sense of smell in a tiger is at its lowest. As we are all aware, tigers spray scent to mark their territory. A study involving chemical analysis of the scent marking by tigers had revealed that there are 45 different chemicals in the scent mark of a tiger and the composition varies according to the mood or message to be conveyed. (I don't remember the name of the scientist and am quoting from memory)

In this image, we can see that the tiger has curled its upper lip to smell the scent left behind by another tiger. Curling of the upper lip in this manner helps in transferring pheromones and other scents into the Jacobson's organ or vomeronasal organ. This behaviour can also be seen in ungulates as well.

This curling of the upper lip is known as Flehmen response.


Sabyasachi Patra
09-06-2009, 11:58 AM
Uploading another record image of a different tiger showing the same behaviour. In this case the tiger cub was checking the scent left behind by its mother in a bamboo bush. I had to use manual focusing to get the eyes in focus.


Bibhav Behera
07-05-2010, 06:33 PM
Is this behaviour specific to Male tigers or do Tigresses exhibit this behaviour as well?

Sabyasachi Patra
09-05-2010, 02:40 PM
Both the tiger as well as tigress exhibit this behaviour.

Abhishek Jamalabad
16-05-2010, 07:15 PM
Nice records, thanks for this article.

Saktipada Panigrahi
27-11-2011, 12:45 PM
Shri Sabyasachi,

Its a rare document.Long years of patience,skill and of course, luck are all required to observe such unfolding beauty of nature and take such nice photographs.I fully agree with your views. Thanks for sharing.

I may like to write a few words,may be at the cost of repetition:

1.Tiger's power of scent is feeble.It depends heavily on sense of sound and sight while hunting.

2.Its sense of sound is most highly developed.With large pinnae-external ear flaps rotating like radar dishes,a tiger can catch many sounds and determine precisely the point of origin.

3.During night the eyes become very important. Having light sensitive cells at the back of retina, the eyes work together to create a 3D image to locate the prey aided by sense of hearing.

4.The Flehmen's response is extremely useful (may be, in conjunction with weak power of smell)for communication when a female is in estrus or a rival male has been encroaching on another's territory.
Kind regards,

Saktipada Panigrahi
27-11-2011, 05:29 PM
Corrections:Post 27-11-2011 01:15 P.M

Para 3: 'sense' in place of 'sence'
Para : 4. in place of 3.
& 'encroaching' in place of 'approaching'

I sincerely regret for the mistakes.SaktiWild