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10 Eye-Opening Facts About Lions – The Bravest Big Cat
1. Lion Pride
Lions tend to be quite social. They live in family groups called prides. A pride contains between 10 and 15 lions, most of which are females and cubs. Male lions, on the other hand, make up just a fifth of a pride, on average.
2. Game of Thrones
A lion’s reign as a pride’s leader is short, lasting between two to four years. Only the strongest male lion can rule a pride, but that means that he needs to be on constant watch to defend his position.
When the lion king gets older and weaker, younger lions challenge him for the position of pride leader. It’s not unusual if several lions (usually siblings) join forces to overthrow the leader of the pride. Once that happens, the new leader usually kills all of the cubs fathered by the former leader.
3. Gender Roles
Male lions may not seem like very good hunters, at first glance. In fact, they prefer to sleep, play, and groom instead of doing hard work. Female lions are the ones with the role of feeding the family. Compared to male lions, lionesses are more agile and a bit faster, making them more adept for hunting. They usually chase down prey of about 250 pounds, using intelligent hunting tactics.
Male lions, on the other hand, mostly hunt during the years when they are alone, searching for their own pride. They are incredibly powerful, and can often take down prey that otherwise requires 4 or 5 lionesses.
Lionesses work together when hunting in order to catch the best possible prey. Once they get it, they will often allow the pride’s leader to feast first. During the hunt, one lioness usually stays in the pride to take care of the cubs. Every lioness that’s lactating will allow any cub to nurse, regardless of who the mother is.
5. Lion’s Duties
Most of the day, the pride’s leader doesn’t do anything but sleep and eat. A male lion will spend between 16 and 20 hours a day sleeping. The rest he uses for guarding the territory, which is his main role. The leader lion will mark his territory by urinating, so other lions can sense his presence. In the case of an intruder, he will roar and try to chase them or fight, if the need arises.
Lions eat twice a week on average, but those meals are huge. An average portion for male lions accounts for one-tenth of their weight, which is about 40 pounds. Such a large amount of food needs to be digested so right after lunch lions go to sleep, a rest that can last for over a day. Their favorite dishes include zebras and antelopes.
Lionesses often synchronize breeding, so they could take care of all their cubs at once. They can be in heat for about 4 or 5 days, during which period they mate with a lion between 2 and 4 times per hour. That means that the male will often copulate over 100 times each day.
8. Lion’s Roar
Lions roar as a way of communicating with each other, but the loudest roars are heard when they’re angry. An enraged lion protecting his territory can be heard roaring from a 5-mile distance.
The average litter size is 3 to 4 lion cubs. Newborns are vulnerable to predators like hyenas and leopards, so at least one lioness is always with them. Cubs remain with their mothers until two and are taught hunting. When they are around 11 months old, lionesses will start bringing them live prey to help them practice hunting.
Lions can mate with other members of the Pantherinae subfamily and produce offspring. The hybrid cross between a lion and a tigress is liger, which is the biggest of all cats. Tigon is a cross between a lioness and a male tiger while the cross of a lioness and a male jaguar is called jag lion.
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