What do Lions eat?

Question: What do Lions eat?

Lions are carnivores, which means they only eat meat!

Unlike Alex from Madagascar, lions do not enjoy sushi. Instead, a lions’ diet generally consists of birds, buffalos, zebras, antelopes, rhinos, hippos or wildebeests.

Marty, Gloria and Melmon should consider themselves very lucky.

Let’s learn more about Lions and what they eat

In the wild, lions tend to hunt for medium-sized prey such as wildebeests and zebras, although they are certainly not picky eaters and will hunt for, and attack, larger prey when necessary.

As a matter of fact, lions are known to take down the occasional elephant and giraffe, however, this is usually only the case if the prey is sick or young. They’re very greedy animals and will hunt even if they’re not hungry.

In captivity, the lion will have a very different diet because it’s not always possible to feed lions what they would naturally consume in the wild, zebra meat, for example. Having said that, zoo’s will attempt to provide a similar amount of food, however, it will instead consist of raw beef, sheep, chicken, rabbit and horse.

How much do Lions eat?

Answer: a lot.

And certainly much more than you and I. Both a lion and a lioness can eat up to 15 per cent of their own body weight in just one sitting. For the average man, that’s the equivalent of roughly 20 pounds of food for one meal.

20-pound cheeseburger anyone?

Daily, the adult male lion requires approximately 16 pounds of meat, while the adult lioness will consume around 11 pounds. Ironically, while the male lion needs more food per day, it’s actually the lioness who does most of the hunting to provide for her pride.

Upon return, a pecking order ensues whereby the males will eat first, then the cubs, and finally the lioness who is left to eat the scraps. Doesn’t sound fair, does it?

One animal a lion will not eat is a fellow lion.

Although life in the wild can sometimes be cruel, lions prefer not to hunt other lions only under desperate circumstances. If a fight between two lions turns fatal, the remains will be left to rot or to be consumed by another animal, but not eaten by the lion. This is because the lion prefers to hunt for herbivores as the nutrition value is far more superior, and apparently, a lion is not a very appetizing meal. Who would’ve guessed?

Why do Lions eat meat?

As we recently learned, lions are carnivores and require a diet of up to 70 per cent of meat in order to meet their nutritional requirements. Therefore, it is vital to the lions’ survival that they consume the flesh of animals. Of course, this isn’t always the case when drought ravages their habitats decimating their prey and leaving them on the brink of starvation.

Why not vegetables? Or fruit? An apple a day never hurt anyone. As a matter of fact, lions do occasionally eat fruits and vegetables but only as a last resort. On the brink of starvation, lions will chew on grass or nearby fruits. However, this will only stave off starvation and the lion will still need to hunt for prey. Given how much lions consume daily, vegetation is never going to provide them with the same nutritional needs as say, a zebra or wildebeest would.

Luckily for the lion, finding food can be relatively easy when you’re an apex predator. This means they are at the top of the food chain and cannot be hunted by other animals within their habitat. They are the hunters, not the hunted.

What do lion cubs eat?

After a cub is born, they will spend their first two to three months drinking their mother’s milk. After that, they will begin to eat meat, just like their parents. But a cub will continue to drink milk from its mother’s teat for roughly six months.

A cub’s father will usually have nothing to do with the feeding or providing of food to their young. Instead, the lionesses will share the role of mother and show no preference to a cub and will happily feed one that is not from their litter.

Fun fact

Even though males are the first to eat, there’s actually a hierarchy within the male lions. If you’re the strongest, most powerful male you get to eat first. Lucky you!

Frequently Asked Questions

People who ask What do Lions eat?’ also ask;

Will a lion eat another lion?

Generally, speaking no. Although life in the wild can sometimes be cruel, they prefer not to hunt other lions only under desperate circumstances. This is because the lion prefers to hunt for herbivores as the nutrition value is far more superior, and apparently, a lion is not a very appetising meal.

Can a tiger eat a lion?

No. Like lions, tigers are carnivorous mammals and prefer to eat larger-sized prey such as deer, wild boar, and young or injured elephants.

Can a lion eat fruit?

Yes. But only if they are desperate. Life on the African savanna has its challenges and droughts can often completely wipe out prey meaning they must scavenge for fruit. However, this is rare and can cause an upset stomach as they do not have the appropriate enzymes to digest fruit properly.

Do lions eat grass?

Yes. Similarly to fruit, a lion can eat grass as a means to ward off starvation. Grass is easily accessible, however, it can cause an upset stomach and may result in the lion vomiting. Ideally, a lion will only eat meat.

Do lions eat cheetahs?

Unfortunately for the cheetah, yes. Although they have to catch them first. At 97kph, the cheetah can easily outrun a lion but with enough ingenuity, a lion can ambush a cheetah and take it by surprise.

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