Cub Survival in Litters of 1,2 3, or 4

What size litter contributes the highest number of surviving cubs to the next generation? In northeastern Minnesota, it is litters of three.

The litter size (3) that contributed the highest number of surviving cubs (2.45) to the next generation was also the most common litter size; 22 (63%) of 35 litters were 3.

Litters of 1 or 2 were usually from first-time mothers. Subsequent litters from these mothers were typically 3.

Litters of 4 showed a higher death rate. Only half those cubs survived a year or more.

Litters of 5 are rare but have been reported from Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New England. A litter of 6 was reported from Pennsylvania.

Litter size # of cubs 


% surviving more 

than a year

# surviving more 

than a year

 1 2 in 2 litters  100%  1.00
 2  16 in 8 litters  88%  1.75
 3  66 in 22 litters
 82%  2.45
 4  12 in 3 litters  50%  2.00
 Combined  96 in 35 litters  79%  2.17
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