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Dec. 15, 2023

Lions are the only cats that live in a pride

While cats are usually solitary animals, lions live together in a group called a pride. Each pride consists of between 3 and 40 lions and is made up of a few male lions, about a dozen lionesses, and the lioness’s cubs. Each pride defends their own territory, which varies in size depending on the amount of food that’s available. If food is scarce, a larger territory is needed to be able to find enough food.

A lion’s pride isn’t the same as a family

While pride members are very close – hunting, eating, and sleeping together – the group doesn’t necessarily consist of biological family members. If a male lion feels that one of their own sons is becoming too powerful and may take over their position one day, they will simply banish the young lion. Any lions that get kicked out must then form their own pride by taking over another one. 

Lions like an extensive buffet

Lions are carnivores and need between 5 and 7 kg of meat a day, which is between 11 and 15 lb. Nonetheless, they can go without food for more than a week, after which they tear into a prey buffet, eating up to 50 kg or 110 lb at once! Lions are opportunistic hunters, which means they will grab an easy prey if they come across one, even when they are not really hungry. All this is quite logical when you know female lions can weigh up to 180 kg or 400 lb and male lions up to 258 kg or 570 lb.

Female lions do the hunting

Contrary to what you might expect, it’s not the male lion that does the majority of hunting. Lionesses hunt around 90% of the time, while the males take care of protecting the pride. The ladies don’t have an easy job if you know that prey can weigh up to 450 kg or 1,000 lb. After the kill, it’s mostly the males who take the first bite, leaving the lionesses and cubs with whatever’s left.

Kings of the jungle, or not?

Contrary to the nickname we gave them, the vast majority of lions don’t live anywhere near a jungle. A better name would be kings of the open savannah. Most jungles have a very dense undergrowth with very few mammals living in it. As a result, lions wouldn’t be able to find enough prey, let alone chase the animal and kill it. 

A lion’s mane has various purposes

Male lions have big heads and necks, which are adorned by beautiful long hair called a mane. Researchers found that lionesses seem to find males with a dark mane more attractive than those with a lighter mane. In addition, lions with longer manes turn out to look more intimidating to other males than those with short manes. However, in hot regions, male lions may have very small manes or even no manes at all because the weight and heat would put the poor animal at a disadvantage.

A lion’s tail says more than a thousand words

The lion is the only member of the cat family with a tufted tail. These long hairs at the end of a lion’s tail are of great importance in the communication with pride members. Whether a lion is giving directional commands or trying to seduce a mate, a lot is said by a subtle movement of the tail.

Lions love a good nap

Your cat’s sleepiness is nothing in comparison to their wilder friends. Female lions sleep for approximately 15 to 18 hours a day, while male lions sleep even more with an average of 18 to 20 hours a day. In that way, they preserve energy for when they really need it, and all that napping allows them to digest the large amount of proteins they consume.

Awake all night and day

Even though lions spend more time asleep than awake, they aren’t necessarily nocturnal. Whether a lion is active mainly during the day or at night depends on their environment and habits. In hot regions or during hot periods, for example, lions tend to hunt during the cooler hours of the night and sleep during the day. Luckily, lions have unique eyes with a great light intake that gives them excellent night vision. However, their sight is limited to blue and yellow hues.