6 fascinating facts about lions
Lions are arguably the most famous big cat in the world. They’re beautiful, captivating, and truly majestic, though it doesn’t pay to get too up close and personal with one. One of the most efficient and fearsome predators in the world, the lion has graced human culture for centuries. From our flags and shields to our TV screens and chart music, lions have been a mainstay.
But how much do you actually know about lions and how they live? Here are 6 interesting lion facts to shed a little more light on one of nature’s most impressive beasts.
They live in complex societies
If you’ve ever owned a cat or lived in a house with cats, you’ll know that cats are generally very isolated creatures. They may get on with another cat, maybe even two, but they’re hardly what you would call a social or pack animal in the way dogs are. Strange, then, that one of the biggest cats in the world, the lion, is actually a very social animal indeed. Lions live in groups, otherwise known as pride, generally consisting of about 15 members of related females and a few unrelated males, and their offspring.
They’re not the King of the Jungle
It’s a phrase almost as etched into popular culture as the lion itself, we’ve all heard that famous phrase “the King of the Jungle”, but the truth is that it’s completely wrong because lions don’t live anywhere near jungles. The actual territory of lions is known as the Savannah, which is the total opposite of the jungle. Rather than tall trees and rich plant life, the Savannah is much flatter and drier. The only time a lion will ever find itself near a jungle is if it finds itself rather spectacularly lost.
The girls stick together for life
The lion hierarchy is in some ways dominated by the lioness. When males reach maturity they’re generally expected to leave the pride and strike out on their own, but related females will stay in the same pride for the entirety of their life, as will their young. They’re also the predominant hunters, much more effective thanks to their more svelte frame which allows them to pounce faster than their male counterparts. Despite being the main hunters, however, when they bring a kill back to the pride it’s the males who will usually eat first.
They were once global
Now we’re used to lions being overwhelmingly found across the content of Africa, except a small group of Asiatic lions which are native to the Gir Forest of India. In millennia past, however, lions were spread much wider across the globe, with evidence of them being found throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North America. There are various reasons why certain animals are no longer found around the world as they once were, generally involving a change in the environment over time and a gradual difficulty in finding enough food to sustain themselves.
They’re extremely big, but not the biggest
If you ever come close to a lion, you’ll know about it. Fully grown adult males can weigh up to 500lbs and grow an impressive eight feet in length. Combine that with powerful jaws, strong teeth, and razor-sharp claws, and you have a mean predator capable of taking down pretty much anything in its path. Despite that, however, they’re not the largest big cat. That honour goes to tigers which can grow up to a whopping 850lbs. Even so, a lion is still plenty big enough to do some serious damage.
They have the loudest roar
One of the other amazing facts about the lion is that the male has the loudest roar of any big cat species. You’ll know well in advance if a lion is in the area. It has been estimated that a lion’s roar carries for an incredible distance of up to five miles, while helps them to locate other members of their pride and mark out their territory to other lions. A pride can occupy a territory of up to 100 square miles, so they need to be able to communicate effectively with each other across wide open spaces.