Interesting Facts About Lions
Read our amazing facts about lions and download or print our quiz sheet in the activity section at the end to test your knowledge afterwards!
Known as the ‘King of the Jungle’ a lion is certainly one interesting animal. But even though it has this name, it certainly doesn’t live in the jungle…interesting. Bet you don’t know all these facts!
You’ll be all lioned-up when you’ve finished with these. We hope you enjoy them.
What does a lion look like
Lions are big cats. They have a strong muscular body with powerful forelegs. Male lions have a majestic mane, fit for a king! Females do not have manes and are smaller than the male.
They are the second biggest big cat species in the world. Tigers are actually bigger than them.
How much does a lion weigh
The average male lion weighs about 400 pounds (180 kilograms) while a female weighs around 290 pounds (130 kilograms). African lions are bigger and heavier than Asiatic lions.
The average 8 year old weighs around 55 pounds (25 kilograms), so put over seven of you together and you’ll weigh the same – that’s quite heavy.
This is amazing! The heaviest lion on record weighed an amazing 826 pounds (375 kilograms). That must have been one massive lion indeed. Not sure it would be cool to run into him on a dark night.
A dictionary weighs 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) so put 375 on top of each other and there you have it; now try pick it up. A bit too heavy we guess.
How Fast can a lion run?
Lions can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour (81 kilometers per hour) but not for too long, as they get a touch tired and don’t have all that much stamina.
The roar of a lion can be heard from 5 miles (8 kilometers) away. Mostly, if humans shout to each other you can hear our voices for up to 984 feet (300 meters). So that roar stretches a long way indeed.
Where do lions live?
Most lions that live in the wild are found in southern and eastern parts of Africa, but there are a very small population of lions in India.
A Pride Of Lions
Cat species are normally quite lonesome characters, but lions however like to hang around in groups, called prides.
In their pride there will be females, young lions and a few adult males and there are normally about 10 or 15 in a pride.
If there’s heaps of food around, a pride can have as many as 30 lions in it. They obviously like to have a good old chat, or roar, to each other. Not sure they’ll be that friendly if we bumped into them though!
What Do Lions Eat?
What does the king of the jungle eat? They eat large animals such as zebras, antelopes, buffaloes, young elephants, rhinos, hippos, wild hogs, crocodiles and giraffes.
If they’re hungry, they can certainly be a bit cheeky and they will steal kills from other carnivores, like hyenas, wild dogs, cheetahs, and leopards. Look after your food if you’re around a lion, that’s for sure.
How much do they need to eat? Well a female lion needs 11 pounds (5 kilograms) of meat and a male 15 pounds (7 kilograms) or more a day.
That’s quite a lot if you consider that the average steak we eat is about ½ a pound (200 grams)…so the male lion needs 35 times more meat a day than we would eat in a single serving. Wow.
Now to get all this meat they need, lions will go hunting from dusk until dawn. So they do all that resting when the sun is high in the sky, and then come out to find their prey later on.
Lionesses are the main hunters in the pride. They’re the ones that will feed the family. The male lion will often patrol the territory to get rid of any unwanted guests.
How do they hunt? Well they work together as a team. They spread out and form a semi-circle. The smaller and weaker lions will herd the prey towards the center.
The stronger females then knock the animals down and make the kill. Quite clever cats these are.
They’re very good sharers…well that’s good to hear. Once a kill is made, the whole pride shares.
But there’s a pecking order, and don’t go eating before it’s your turn, you could get into trouble. First it’s the males, then the females and finally the cubs.
Lions can gorge themselves having one very hearty meal, and a couple of seconds later they’re ready to eat again.
Male Lions are Protectors
So we know lionesses hunt, but the male lions take on other jobs. They guard their territory and their cubs. But how do they make their territory known to other animals?
Well they roar, mark their territory with urine or chase off intruders so they know not to go walking round those parts again.
A lion’s territory can be as large as 100 square miles (260 square kilometers). That is quite some territory, which they’re fiercely protective over.
Lions are lazy
Now are these animals lazy or what? In the wild, they rest for around 20 hours a day. Can you imagine resting for 20 hours a day; we’d never get anything done at all.
They can be found lying on their backs with their feet up or taking a snooze up in a tree.
While lazing around, they are very affectionate towards one another, rubbing heads, grooming, and purring. Okay, we’ll forgive them for all that downtime, they’re enjoying themselves.
We’re sure you know that a baby lion is called a cub. But did you know that there are other names for these cuties? Well it can also be called a whelp or lionet. Interesting.
Lionesses normally give birth to 2 to 3 cubs at a time. Most of the lionesses give birth at the same time in a pride and everyone looks after them together. Cute.
Lions cubs don’t open their eyes until they are 2 weeks old and see poorly till they are 3 weeks old.
The poor cubs are a bit helpless when it comes to other predators like hyenas, leopards and jackals; they also sometimes get trodden on by buffaloes.
Only about 30% of lion cubs live to be adults. How sad, but as they say, it’s the circle of life.
If another male comes and takes over the pride, they are not so keen on the cubs that are there already, and they kill them, so they can have their own cubs. Oh no!
Female cubs stay with the pride and at two years old they’re ready to hunt. But the males get kicked out at that age, and they need to go out and find their own pride. They have to be strong enough to challenge another male for their pride.
Female lions reach two thirds of their adult size when they’re two years old. Gosh, that certainly isn’t the case with us humans. Imagine being almost fully grown at 2 years old.
Cool Facts about Lions
How do you spot a male lion? Easy, he’ll have a big shaggy mane. If they’ve got darker manes, he’ll be popular with the ladies.
That gorgeous mane of a male lion is not just for show, it actually protects their neck if they’re fighting with challengers. Amazing.
Considering where lions live, this is quite something. They are the national animal of Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, England, Ethiopia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Singapore (Europe facts).
Lions can survive in the wild for about 12 to 16 years. In captivity they can live until they’re about 25 years old.
Did you know that lions sometimes breed with other cat species? Well they do and they’ve got some pretty funny names!
Lion and tiger breeds are called ligers and tigons, lion and leopard breeds are called leopons and lions, and jaguar breeds are known as jaglions.
Now you’ve learned some new words.
They drink water, and if it’s available they’ll drink every day, but if not they can go without water for 4 to 5 days as they’ll survive on the water that’s in their stomachs from their prey.
There are around 20,000 to 30,000 lions living in Sub-Saharan Africa, and they’re mostly in protected reserves.
They are considered vulnerable to extinction. Why? People are moving into their territory so this means that they start to hunt things like cattle instead of wild animals.
So farmers kill them to protect their livestock. They are also often killed when tribes are trying to show their bravery in rituals, or as hunting trophies and some people believe they can cure certain diseases.
As people move into their territory, so they also start to kill village dogs, which often have tick-borne diseases which make lions very bad tempered…it’s called canine distemper. This also kills off loads of lions.
More Fun Facts About Lions
How interesting is this? When lion’s walk, their heels don’t touch the ground. It would be like us walking on tip-toes all the time.
Surprisingly lions are very good swimmers; surprising as cats don’t swim at all.
That famous thick mane that the males lions have begins to grow when they’re 18 months old and continues to grow into a nice thick shaggy mane until they’re 5 years old.
If you’ve ever seen ‘The Lion King’, you should remember Simba. Well there is a language in Africa called Swahili, and Simba actually means lion. Cool hey.
Did you know that lions used to found in Africa, Asia and Europe, but now only live in Africa except for about 350 to 400 Asiatic lions that are in a national park in India?
The Asiatic lion is an endangered animal.
Did you know that you can guess the age of a lion by his mane? Well the darker the mane, the older he is.
We’ve spoken about how loud a lion’s roar is, but do you know how they can make such a big sound? Well the cartilage in their throats is actually bone. Now that’s a cool fact.
Who is the biggest competitor to lions in the wild when it comes to prey? Well it’s none other than the spotted hyena.
Even though lions are ‘king’ in their land, hyena live in much larger packs and pose a tough challenge.
We hope you’ve enjoyed all of this interesting information about the mighty lion. Do you have any interesting facts that we haven’t covered? Then let us know!
Activity Time – Quiz
Click to download or print our lion facts quiz sheet to use in class or at home! Questions about Lions (all answers can be found on this page).