The African lion (Panthera leo) was once described in Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language (1755) as "the fiercest and most magnanimous of four-legged beasts" 👀. And that is absolutely true! Clearly, lions are fascinating creatures, and here we get to know them a little better by reviewing 15 facts about them:
Here are 15 things to know when it comes to lions:
1 - African are the largest of the african cats
Second in the felidae family, the tiger being the largest. Males can reach a shoulder height of about 1.2 meters and weigh between 150 and 225kg (average 189kg). Females measure about 1 meter in shoulder height and weigh between 110 and 152kg (126kg on average).
2 - African Lions have a vast habitat and can live almost anywhere.
In open forests, thick bushes, scrub and grassy complexes, even penetrating deep into deserts along waterways - but don't expect to find them in wet forests🌿. Globally, lions exist in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, although history shows that long ago, lions also inhabited parts of Southwest Asia and North Africa. Check out the best places to see wild lions in Africa 🦁
3 - The color of the Lion's coast varies from region to region.
Also depending on the populations. However, we find that lions that live in areas with cooler weather and higher humidity tend to have darker fur. Such as the desert-adapted lions in Namibia and the black-headed lions of the Kalahari. You also get white lions, however they are not true albinos but rather genetic variants with greatly reduced pigmentation.
4 - Desert adapted lions.
These lions are known for their majestic size and ability to survive in the desert ☀️. They have longer legs and leaner bodies than "normal" lions, and are built for endurance. Because prey is scarce in desert regions, lions must forage for food everywhere and live off of smaller prey, such as antelope, mice, and birds. Lions are more resistant to thirst and can go up to two weeks without drinking water (they depend on the blood of their prey for moisture). Take a look at a beautiful photo gallery of the iconic lions of the Namibian desert.
5 - Lions and their claws.
When it comes to claws, lions have four on their hind legs, but five on the front, where the dew claw is located. The dew claw does not appear in their spoor and acts as a thumb to hold the prey.
6 - The eyes of Lions.
If you look closely, you will see that lions have round pupils, instead of the vertical slits found in domestic cats 👁. Having pupils that are vertical slits is convenient for cats that are looking for small prey and need to be able to focus clearly on small things. However, large cats like lions generally hunt larger prey, so there is unlikely to be any significant advantage to having slit pupils. Having round pupils also allows more light to enter the eye at night, giving the lion better night vision 🌗
7 - Lion cubs'eyes.
When it comes to eyes, lion cubs are born with blue eyes that turn amber or brown around two to three months of age.
8 - Lions are the most social member of the cat family.
Herds may contain up to 25 individuals. The size of the pride depends on the region and the availability of prey. A pride usually consists of 1-4 adult males, several adult females (one dominant) and a number of sub-adults and cubs 👶🏼. All pride lions are related. Female lion cubs usually stay in the pride as they grow up while young males eventually leave the pride and try to establish their own pride. Young male lions driven out of the pride often travel great distances in search of other driven out males, forming coalitions and attempting to take over a group led by one or more other males. New pride males often kill cubs in the pride and then mate with females, to ensure that their genes predominate in the pride 🦠
9 - The Lion and hunting.
When it comes to hunting, the lion's pride will have different preferences as to which prey species they prefer. But because of their opportunistic nature, lions hunt a wide variety of game. Lions primarily target large ungulates (buffalo, wildebeest, zebra and giraffe). However, they don't stop there, lions have been known to prey on larger mammals such as young elephants and hippos and also hunt other predators of their own victims such as hyenas or wild dogs 🔞.
10 - When does the Lion hunt?
Hunting takes place mainly at dusk until dawn and during the cooler hours of the day. Most of the time, the females hunt, then the males (who patrol the territory and protect the pride) eat first. The cubs fight over what is left after the adults are finished. The only way to get food is to fight for it, so you'll often see aggression among pride members when it's feeding time.
11 - Do Lions eat every day?
Lions "easily" go without food when prey is scarce. This can last for several days. But when the prey falls under his fangs then an average male lion will swallow about 15% of his body weight!
12 - The Lion and reproduction.
There is no fixed breeding season for lions, although prideful females often synchronize the timing of breeding. Especially after a takeover by new dominant males, to ensure maximum food and maternal care available to the cubs. Lions mate approximately every thirty minutes (each mating lasts about 20 seconds) for three days... without interruption ! This is to ensure fertilization during the estrus period of the female so that the cubs are born as soon as possible, which allows a longer protection under the responsibility of the male of the pride.