Today we present you with some incredible facts about the lion and its status as the king of animals. As described in Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755) the African lion is “the fiercest and most magnanimous of the four-legged beasts”. Let’s find out 15 must-know facts about lions without further ado:
1) African Lions Are the Second Largest Cat
Indeed, the lion is just behind the tiger which is the largest of the felines. Males can reach a shoulder height of about 1.2 meters and weigh between 150 and 225 kg (189 kg on average). Females have a shoulder height of about 1 meter and weigh between 110 and 152 kg.
2) African Lions Can Live Almost Anywhere
Contrary to popular belief, lions are able to live in a variety of habitats, from open forests, thick bushes and scrubland to grassy complexes and even deserts along waterways. Overall, lions live in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, although there is some facts in history that lions have lived in parts of southwest Asia as well as North Africa.
3) the Lion’s Coat Color Varies
Depending on the region, the color of a lion’s coat can vary. Lions that live in regions with lower temperatures and higher humidity have darker coats overall, such as the desert-adapted lions of Namibia and the black-maned lions of the Kalahari. There are white lions, not to be confused with albinos, which are genetic variants with greatly reduced pigmentation. If you appreciate the particularity of this feline we invite you to discover this white lion painting!
4) Their Resistance to the Environment
As we have seen previously, some of these large and majestic looking felines are able to survive in the desert. Their legs are longer and their body is leaner than the “normal” lions, their main ability is endurance.
Because prey is scarcer in desert regions, lions must find food over long distances and prey is smaller in size, such as antelopes, mice and birds. These desert lions are more resistant to thirst, they can live up to two weeks without water (depending on the blood of their prey).
5) The claws of lions are special
Lions have four claws on their hind legs and five on their front side where the dew claw is located. This claw does not appear in their footprints, it acts like a thumb that serves to hold a prey.
6) the Pupils of Lions
When you look closely, lions have round pupils, not vertical slits like domestic cats. These vertical slits are useful for cats looking for small prey. However, larger cats, such as lions, usually go after larger prey, so the slits are of less interest. The round pupils also allow more light to filter into the eye at night, giving the lion better night vision.
7) Lion Cub Eyes
Cubs are born with blue to amber or brown eyes at about two to three months of age.
8) Lions Are Sociable
Lions are the most social of felines and can live with up to 25 individuals. The size of a group will depend on the area and the availability of prey. A group is usually composed of 1 to 4 adult males, several adult females (one of which is dominant) and a number of sub-adults and cubs.
Female lions in groups are related to each other; as they grow older, they remain in the group, while males eventually leave the group and form their own groups. Young male lions that are ousted from a pride will often travel great distances to find other ousted males to form coalitions and take over a pride led by one or more males. When new males take over a group, they usually kill the cubs and mate with the females to ensure their genes.
9) Lions’ Prey
Lion prides prey on a variety of prey species, however their opportunistic nature leads them to hunt a wide variety of game. In general, lions prey on large ungulates (buffalo, wildebeest, zebra and gemsbok). However, lions like to prey on larger mammals such as young elephants and hippos, and will also seek out predators such as hyenas or wild dogs.
10) Hunting Conditions
Hunting takes place mostly from dusk to dawn during the cooler hours of the day. Females do most of the hunting while the males defend the territory and protect the group. The males eat first and the young compete for the leftovers once the adults are finished. The only way to get food is to fight, which is why we see aggression from the group during feeding.
11) After the Meal
When the lion is full, it falls into a food coma, in this case a male lion swallows about 15% of his weight.
12) the Perfect Breeding Season Does Not Exist for Lions
Lions don’t really have a fixed breeding season, however, the females in the group generally synchronize at breeding time, especially when new dominant males take over to ensure maximum food and maternal care for the cubs.
As discussed in the article on lion reproduction, lions mate approximately every thirty minutes (each intercourse will last about 20 seconds) for three days. This will ensure fertilization during the oestrus period of the females, so that the cubs are born as soon as possible allowing a longer protection under the male pride.
13) The Birth of the Cubs
After 110 days of gestation, a litter of 1 to 4 (up to 6 in some cases) is born. During the first 6 to 7 months the cubs suckle regularly, afterwards the frequency decreases. The cubs will stay with their mother for about two years where they start hunting.
14) Lion Communication
Lions have one of the most complicated communication behaviors of all felines. They are capable of generating a wide variety of calls, such as roars, growls, whines, meows, buzzes, and huffs.
15) The Lion’s Roar
The lion is obviously the king of the roar, it is the loudest of the felines and can be heard up to 8 km away! Lions roar for a variety of reasons, whether it’s to show territorial ownership or to intimidate rivals, to locate other group members or to contribute to social cohesion. One of the benefits of roaring is that female lions can recognize the roar of a male that belongs to their group. This keeps them safe from outsiders who might try to attack the cubs.