The Lion | Description, Habitat, Diet

The lion is a carnivorous mammal, a member of the felid family like the tiger, jaguar, or leopard. Learn more about lions
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The Lion (or lioness, for females) is a carnivorous mammal, a member of the felid family like the tiger, jaguar, or leopard.

Survival is most challenging during their infancy when they are more susceptible to other predators; after this, the female can live between 12 and 14 years, while males only live for about 8 years.

Compared to other felids, they are social animals, meaning they are the least aggressive among members of their own species.

Males are one of the easiest animals to distinguish: they possess a characteristic mane that is widely popular in human culture; in fact, the lion can be found in literature, painting, movies, and other media. Otherwise, both the female and male have a yellowish-brown coat along the body, except for the undersides, which tend to be lighter.

El León
The Lion


They are the second-largest felid, after the tiger, and the only ones where the visual difference between female and male is easily noticeable.

Their weight varies between 150 and 250 kg for males; for females, between 120 and 182 kg. Also, they measure between 1.7 and 2.5 meters in length for males; and for females, from 1.4 to 1.75 meters (not counting the tail). Additionally, both sexes stand a little over one meter tall.

These mammals rest an average of 20 hours a day; although they can be active at any time of the day, they are commonly more active at the end of the day. Females are in charge of almost all prey hunting, as they are smaller, more agile, faster, and stealthier.


Lions have 2 forms of organization:

  1. Residents or In prides: the group consists of 5 or 6 adult females with their offspring. Also, 1 or 2 adult males. In some cases, groups of up to 30 members have been seen.
  2. Nomads: they constantly move through different territories, alone or in pairs. It is normal for a lion to change its lifestyle between Nomad and Resident or vice versa throughout its life.


Lions are found in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. They are often recognized as the “King of the Jungle”; however, lions do not inhabit jungles. They live in savannas, in extremely dry and hot areas.

They only change location to areas where they have never lived when the animals they feed on also move to new environments; this mainly happens due to human intervention in their habitat and environmental destruction.


These animals primarily hunt Wildebeests, Zebras, Gazelles, Antelopes, and in some cases, Rhinoceroses. Often, they are scavengers, stealing dead prey from Hyenas and Vultures.

Their prey can weigh up to 500 kg, preferred mainly so the entire pride can eat; despite this, they can hunt small animals like rodents or hares, mainly nomadic lions.

These predators can reach speeds of up to 58 km/h, so in case they encounter faster prey like the Gazelle, which reaches 97 km/h, they must use strategy and agility to counter the disadvantage.


There is no specific mating season; it normally occurs when food is more abundant.

Females are ready to reproduce at about 4 years old, and males at 3 years old. The gestation period (while the lion cub is developing and is born) lasts 110 days.

They give birth in a cave away from the pride, and have between 1 and 4 cubs. Approximately after 2 months, the mothers return with their pride, and the cubs stop needing breastfeeding about 6 to 7 months after birth.

Approximately 80% of lions die before reaching 2 years of age.

Leonas descansando
Lionesses resting


In their adulthood, lions have few natural enemies. Their main competitor is hyenas, who in groups can easily steal their hunted pieces. Cubs can also be hunted by hyenas, and even in their adulthood, lions can be fatally wounded by a Wildebeest or a Buffalo.

Despite their few natural enemies, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified lions as Vulnerable, which means they start to be threatened.

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