What Do Lions Eat?

Lions are carnivores, meaning that they feed on flesh and meat as their main diet. Basically, lions hunt down and eat both small-sized and larger animals such as hares, warthogs, antelopes, baby elephants, zebras, and wildebeests among other animals. Sometimes, lions may prey on larger animals, especially the weak ones, killing and eating them. Though rare, lions may also eat decaying meat from dead animals such as carrion.

Lions in zoos or in captivity are not fed the kind of meat they would eat in the wild. However, they are fed on beef and raw beef bones from cows and buffaloes and sometimes, though rare, on specially ground horse meat. This keeps them strong and able to remain in good health, especially when the beef is not available on a regular basis but the water is plenty.

When the lions have an upset stomach, they may prefer to munch on grass. This is not part of their diet, though. 

Lions eating Wildebeest at Serengeti
Lions eating Wildebeest at Serengeti

Where Do Lions Get Their Food?

Lions like hunting in thick scrub and in the open woodlands, usually known as the Savannah. This kind of landscape enables them to get as close to their prey as possible, without being easily noticed. They then pounce on the prey or charge on it for a short distance, before getting on it for a kill.

The main source of lions’ food comes from the wild, through scavenging. Lions hunt small wild animals such as gazelles, warthogs, and hares and feed on them. However, they also kill domestic animals such as goats, cattle and camels for prey. 

Lions live and hunt in groups, known as pride. Each pride lives in its own area, which is identified as its territory. The pride considers this as their land and keeps on defending it from any other pride. Within this territory, the lions find their food and water.

Lions, being apex predators, are adapted to hunt for prey from most of the wild animals living within their habitat. In a week, lions hunt for around 3-4 days, though only a small percentage of their hunting turns successful, which is why they can go for days without feeding.

How Often Do Lions Need To Eat?

Researchers believe that lions feed every three to four days. However, if in the zoo and there is plenty of food, lions are required to be fed daily or a few times a week, though on a smaller amount of meat than they would eat in the wild.

However, in cases where food is not available but there is sufficient water, lions can barely eat once a week even after almost two weeks. 

On average, while the male lion is known to feed on at least 7 kg of meat per day, the lioness feeds on about 5 kg of meat per day. However, lions can go without food for over a week. When they get into prey after this period, they eat up to 50 kg of meat in a single sitting, which is almost a quarter of their own body weight. This enables them to go for days or even weeks without another meal.

On average in the zoo, male lions in captivity feed on about 3.6 kgs of meat while the lionesses feed on about 2.7 kgs of meat per single feeding.

What Is The Best Time To Spot A Lion Hunt?

Lioness on the Hunt
Lioness on the Hunt

As a general rule, the best time you would spot a lion hunting is mostly at night . They are usually active at dawn and dusk and on cool days. This is because at night they can easily approach their prey and pounce on it without being easily noticed. 

Lion’s eyesight is also sharper than that of most of their prey, serving as an advantage to easily spot their prey at night and pounce on it with ease. 

During the day, however, they are usually resting either near the water points or in the thickets.

From morning to late in the afternoon, lions just lazy around, resting for up to 20 hours a day. This enables them to spare their energy for the next hunt in the savannah. That is why if you make a visit to the game parks, you would more often find the lions walking around, sleeping or just engaging in social behaviors.

Do Lions Eat Humans?

Yes, lions attack and eat humans. However, this is not regular because humans do not usually live in the wild as the wild animals do, and are also keen to keep an eye on any lions which can possibly attack them. 

Usually, humans living around areas with lions are always armed with sharp knives, spears, or other farm tools for security purposes, scaring away any lion willing to attack them. 

Such cases are however not hard to find. Generally, lions would quickly run into hiding rather than attack and kill a human being for prey. Reduction of prey and encroachment of human settlements in the wild has led to increased cases of human-lion conflicts and increased human deaths from lion attacks, according to research. 

More than 250 people worldwide are estimated to be killed by lions every year. Studies on man-eating lions in Africa indicate that lions may resort to killing and eating humans as a supplement to other food, but not necessarily as their last resort.

Do Lions Eat Other Lions?

As a general rule, lions do not seek to hunt and eat other lions, especially the adult ones, unless under severe cases of food scarcity. However, there are recorded cases of adult lions killing cubs belonging to other lions and either eating them up or just leaving them dead. This is usually meant to get rid of a previous lion’s cubs from a newly acquired pride or as a show of rivalry. It however depends on the individual lion. 

Instead, lions kill and eat smaller animals such as gazelles, deer, wildebeests, warthogs, and smaller giraffes. Very rare instances of adult lions killing and eating other adult lions still exist. Common are instances where adult lions fight and fatally wound each other, but it does not get to a point of one eating the other as they would eat prey.  

In instances where male cubs grow up, the adult lions would usually chase them away to ensure the lions are left alone with the lionesses.

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