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What do Lions Eat?

Lions are incredible animals that are also ferocious. With this in mind, it's no surprise that so many people are curious with how lions behave and what they eat.

If you've ever wondered "what do lions eat?" the simple answer is "meat and flesh." As apex predators, lions are skilled at searching for their prey, which is usually other animals found in their environment. Antelopes, giraffes, zebras, wild hogs, and even crocodiles are examples of this.

One of the main reasons lions are regarded to as the "kings of the forest" is the large number of animals they hunt on. Simply said, lions are at the top of the food chain in the wild, and their raw strength, keen fangs and claws, and cunning allow them to nearly hunt any animal they choose.

We'll go through what lions eat in depth in this article so you can get a better understanding of these wonderful (and gigantic) felines.

Exploring a Lion’s Diet

Lions are omnivorous carnivores who eat exclusively meat. A carnivore is an animal that feeds on the flesh and tissue of other animals in order to obtain energy and nutrition.

Lions are the "Apex Predator," meaning they are at the top of the food chain and are not seen as prey by other animals. Lions are also known as "Obligate Carnivores" since they only eat animal meat for food. Animals classified as "facultative carnivores" eat non-animal items in addition to meat.


As "Obligate Carnivores," lions eat meat for more than 70% of their diet. Lions' bodies do not manufacture the amount of amino acids they require to survive. Lions must consume animal flesh to meet their daily requirements.

Even though lions are unable to digest plants, they may eat some grass or fruits. Because lions lack the enzymes necessary to break down plant stuff, they can only digest meat.


Lions are not picky when it comes to what they prey on, including:

  • Antelopes
  • Giraffes
  • Rhinoceros
  • Buffaloes
  • Smaller elephants
  • Zebras
  • Wild Hogs
  • Crocodiles

If they were to come across these smaller prey, they are very likely to eat them as well:

  • Mice
  • Birds
  • Hares
  • Tortoises
  • Lizards

In the Wild, Investigating a Lion's Diet 

Lions will consume any animal they can get their hands on. In the wild, this means that they eat a wide variety of creatures on a daily basis.

The animals that lions are most likely to eat are zebras, pigs, buffaloes, antelopes, hippos, giraffes, rhinos, and wildebeests. Small and young offspring of huge animals weighing 50 to 300 kg are also prey for lions.

An adult lion kills 15 animals every year on average. They usually eat the carcasses of killings made by the lions' pride's hunters. Scavenging accounts for half of a lion's food in the wild.


Lions in zoos are typically fed a diet of beef (with the bones), chicken, rabbit, sheep, and horse.

Captive lions will eat commercially produced and specifically prepared cat chow in addition to animal flesh. These foods are designed to meet all of a lion's nutritional requirements.

What African Lions Eat

Usually found in the grasslands, African lions often eat:

  • Antelopes
  • Wildebeest
  • Zebras

What White Lions Eat

White lions are likewise obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat the flesh of animals to survive.

White lions, which originated in Timbavati, South Africa, are now rarely seen in the wild. Zebras, pigs, buffaloes, gazelles, rabbits, and wildebeests are among the animals they consume, as are zebras, pigs, buffaloes, gazelles, rabbits, and wildebeests.

They're frequently found in captivity, where they're cared for by a variety of animals and fed specially prepared cat food.

What Do Lions Prefer To Eat?

Because lions' digestive processes are designed to break down animal flesh, they will constantly be drawn to other animals. The following are some of their favorite animals:

  • Antelopes
  • Buffaloes
  • Crocodiles
  • Young or small elephants
  • Giraffe
  • Hippos
  • Hogs
  • Rhinos
  • Wildebeests
  • Zebras

How Much & How Often Do Lions Eat?

In the wild, a typical lion consumes between 10 and 25 pounds (4.5 and 11 kg) of food each day.

Male lions can eat up to 43 kg of meat in a day if there is plenty of food, however female lions can only consume up to 25 kg.

A male lion in captivity should eat roughly 3.6 kg (8 pounds), while a female should consume around 2.7 kg, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (6 pounds). Lions must eat on a daily basis. They can, however, go for up to 14 days without food if necessary.


Like most carnivores, lions are equipped with three types of teeth:

  • Canines
  • Incisors
  • Carnassials

They use their strong jaws and specialized teeth to consume their food. The mouth of a lion can open to a width of 11 inches (28 cm). The bite of a lion is one of the largest in the animal kingdom.

Their canine teeth are extremely long and pointed, and they utilize them to grab and kill their victim, while their incisors are tiny teeth at the moth's front that are used to rip tiny chunks of meat from the fresh body.

Lions use their sharp carnassial teeth, which are positioned in the bottom of their mouth, to break enormous chunks of flesh away. Instead of chewing, lions simply devour huge portions of meat whole.

Where & When Do Lions Eat?

Lions almost always eat their prey right after they kill it. They will, however, pull their prey to the shore first if they kill it in a body of water.

They will guard the carcass from unwelcome scavengers and wait until they are hungry again if they are unable to eat the meal in its entirety. To avoid the heat, lions may sometimes eat their kill in the shade.

While lions are capable of hunting throughout the day, they prefer to save their prey for the evening. When a pride has successfully killed their prey, the members of the pride take turns consuming the flesh. Adult males are first, followed by lionesses, cubs, and elderly or weaker lions.

Do Lions Eat Each Other?

Only when there is a fight within the pride or a transition in control in a new territory can lions kill each other. Male lions will occasionally murder a lioness who refuses to mate in a newly established territory.

Do Lions Eat Their Cubs?

Lions will sometimes kill and eat their cubs in order to make their mother pregnant. Male lions may also kill and eat new young cubs of a new territory.

Do Lions Eat Humans?

Although it is uncommon for lions to devour humans, there have been a few instances where a lion has done so. The Tsavo man-eaters of 1898 are the most well-known example. Two lions devoured 28 railway workers over the course of nine months as they built the Kenya-Uganda railway.

A shocking report was released by American and Tanzanian scientists. Between 1990 and 2005, at least 563 residents in Tanzania's rural areas were attacked by lions, with many of them being eaten.

Packer believes that 200 to 400 Tanzanians are killed each year by wild animals, with lions accounting for 70 of these killings.

A main-eating Lion killed at least 35 people in Southern Tanzania along the Rufiji River before being hunted and killed by game scouts in April 2004. Humans can also be eaten by Asian lions. Human attacks were reported twice in 2012 from a 55-kilometer radius of the Gir sanctuary.


As you can see, what lions consume varies depending on the place and conditions in which they find themselves. Regardless, all lions love to search for their victims and devour meat and flesh, which is what makes them such a dangerous predator in the wild