What Do Lions Eat? Lion Diet And Food Details

Updated: 06 Aug 2022


what do lions eat

Most people have a question, what do lions eat?

Lions are obligate carnivores, and they eat only meat. Lions usually hunt and eat animals from small to medium-sized animals. They also prey on larger animals, including sick, injured, and dead animals.

Lions can easily pull down and kill prey because of their muscular, compact bodies, powerful forelegs, fangs, and jaws. Adult males have shaggy manes consisting of blond to reddish-brown to black colors. They have yellow-gold coats.

According to estimates, lions eat every three to four days and require 5 to 7 kg of meat per day on average. While adult male lions consume 16 pounds or more of meat daily, mature female lions only need approximately 11 pounds.

Lions may go for up to a week without eating before tearing into their prey and devouring up to 50 kg (nearly a fourth of the animal's total weight) of meat at once.

Sometimes, lions can eat grass to soothe an upset stomach. Most lions live in the northern part of South Africa, while Asiatic lions live in the Gir Forest of northwest India.

In the article, we will explore the lion diet and food. Next, we will describe: What a lion eats the most in the wild and in captivity.

What Do Lions Eat?

Lions are carnivores. They only consume meat. They will eat almost every animal they can catch, most commonly antelope, buffalo, zebra, giraffe, and giraffe species.

If they get the chance, they will also feed on the young of larger animal species like elephants and rhinos. Most prey animals range in weight from 50 to 300 kg.

In captivity, lions eat a wide range of foods, including sheep, goats, rabbits, chicken, and horses—even horse heads. However, because they are carnivores, lions must consume meat as a necessary and integral element of their diet.

In Serengeti, lions (weigh 200 to 400 pounds) prey largely on zebras and wildebeests, which live within the boundaries of their pride' territories. These moving herbivores are primarily found in both the plains and the forests.

Lions are apex predators. To feed and refuel with the necessary nutrition and energy, lions capture and kill their prey. Compared to other predators, lions are not very good runners.

For instance, cheetahs can sprint up to 97 km/h, but lions can only reach speeds of about 60 km/h. This is a drawback when attempting to catch quick and agile creatures.

Lions are exceptionally skilled hunters to make up for this; they follow their prey to get close to them and use the element of surprise to trap them before they can flee.

To remain concealed, they squat, going as low to the ground as they can, and then carefully approach their victim as silently as they can.

Lions are the most social members of the cat family, which means that they live in groups even if they are capable of hunting alone. They can hunt together, which is quite helpful for food. Most of the hunting is done by the female lionesses.

To surround the prey animal as much as possible and avoid the necessity for a chase, each lion has a specific function to play while on the hunt. The same stalking technique may be employed, but a different strategy can be used when several lions are present.

Another tactic is an ambush, where lions approach their prey and force them to retreat into waiting lions or into bushes and other regions where they cannot escape. Using these strategies increases the pride's chances of survival since they may go after larger animals and catch more prey.

What Animals Do Lions Eat?

Lions are completely meat eaters. They eat the meat of the small to mid and mid to large size animals. There are more than ten animals in the list below that a lion eats the most.

  • Antelope
  • Deer
  • Camel
  • Warthogs
  • Nilgai
  • Chital
  • Zebra
  • Giraffe
  • Wildebeest
  • Buffalo
  • Baboon
  • Wild Pig
  • Hippopotamus

Lions have powerful jaws that can expand to a width of 11 inches. They utilize their long canine fangs to seize and kill their prey. Lions do not chew food.

Instead, the flesh is held in place by their small incisors at the front of the mouth while being torn into bite-sized pieces by their razor-sharp carnassial teeth in the back.

In the wild, male lions typically live to be around 12 years old, while females live at about 15 years old. However, in captivity, lions can live up to 25 years old.

They lose their teeth as they age, which contributes significantly to this discrepancy. After losing their teeth, lions struggle to eat and get the nutrition they need to survive because they must break meat into pieces they can swallow.

In captivity, we can feed lions that are losing their teeth prey that is ready to eat, helping them to keep their body weight in check.

What Do Lions Eat In The Wild?

In the wild, lions primarily eat hippopotamuses, baby elephants, giraffes, antelopes,  crocodiles, wild dogs, hares, mice, buffaloes, leopards, cheetahs, birds, hares, lizards, and rhinoceros.

In some situations, lions can consume fellow lions. Either because of a dire desire for food, rivalry or to take lion pups from a freshly acquired pride of lions by a previous male. They typically kill them, but they are not eaten. Lions often avoid hunting and eating other lions unless there is a lack of food.


Lions need meat to survive because they are strictly carnivores. Therefore, like all cats, they receive the significant amount of protein they need from animal flesh. Additionally, since their bodies cannot make all of the amino acids they need, this gives them all of them.

Lions eating habits indicates that meat makes up more than 70% of their diet. Although it's close to 100% for these giant cats, they lack the enzymes needed to digest plants in their systems.

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