Is A Lion A Carnivore? Where Do They Stand In The Animal Kingdom?

Ritwik Bhuyan
Feb 25, 2023 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Nov 15, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Close up of lion in National park.

Lions are obligate carnivores that rely only on other animals, often termed as prey, for nutrition.

Lions eat many different kinds of animals such as birds, hares, lizards, turtles, wild dogs, wild hogs, wild boars, buffaloes, deers, rhinos, crocodiles, cheetahs, baby elephants, zebras, rhinos, antelopes, and even giraffes.

Not just this, lions can eat a lot with male lions eating 15.4 lb (7 kg) animal flesh in a day and female lions eating around 9.9 lb (4.5 kg) a day.

Adult lions are capable of feeding up to 15% of the body weight in one meal. They are very greedy when it comes to prey and will even hunt when not hungry.

Lions eat continuously and get distracted very easily when they see new prey. Lions are ferocious predators who feed on flesh and meat.

Lions hunt for their food on all the animal species in the habitat. They kill for fun and move in a pride.

The pride of lions stays in a territory to survive. A pride consists of around three males, 12 females, and the young.

However, the size of the pride depends on the availability of water and food. They hunt together as a group provides a better opportunity of catching the prey and also protects the cubs better.

The long list of animals that lions eat is the reason why lions are called the kings of the jungle and there's every bit of truth to this statement. The sharp teeth, claws, strength, and smartness makes them the leaders of the food chain and the undefeated king.

Lions are carnivores that only eat meat. Nutrients and energy are gained by killing animals in the jungle and feeding on them. Lions are apex predators which means no other animals in the jungle eat lions.

They kill for a game and they kill when they are hungry and all animal species in the savannah fear the lions. Lions are considered obligate carnivores as they only feed on the flesh of the animal they hunt.

Lions are not known to naturally produce the level of amino acids needed to survive. Lions have to feed on the flesh of the animal to fulfill these requirements. Lions do not have the enzymes that break down plant matter.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about how much does a lion weigh and bear vs lion here on Kidadl?

Are lions carnivores or omnivores?

Lions are hardcore carnivores and feed only on animal flesh. In fact, lions cannot even digest plant materials.

Lions are obligate carnivores which means they just eat meat. They usually hunt birds, hares, turtles, mice, wild hogs, cheetahs, wild dogs, lizards, antelopes, buffaloes, leopards, crocodiles, elephants, rhinoceros, hippos, zebras, and tall giraffes.

Lions have no predators which makes them stay at the top of the food chain. In The Lion King, where the pride stays together with one or two male lions and a few females with some cubs. The lionesses hunt for prey and kill for the pride.

This protects the group and also trains the cubs for the future. Although male lions are larger in size, lionesses take the front seat when it comes to hunting.

Why are lions not herbivores?

African lions, as an example, depend on herbivorous animals a lot but are not herbivores themselves.

Eating plants and other materials can cause irritation to the stomach of a lion, but that does not mean that they sometimes do not munch on the leaves in the enclosure. In the wild, you won't see a lion go out of the way to feed on plants.

In fact, lions do not possess the enzymes required to break down the plant materials inside the body which leads to the problems of indigestion or worse.

Killed animals become their food, be it the fruit eaters or the leaf feeders, keeping the balance in the jungle.

Is it not that what is taught? It is important to keep the balance in the society to have a healthy life and that is the philosophy lions also follow.

What do lions prefer to eat?

The carnivorous lions are something the world is in awe of. The ways of their hunting, the ways they care for the young cubs, the ways adult males take charge of the group, and the ways that make the lions the kings of the world are quite fascinating and informative to know about.

Lions prefer meat as food. The lions eat the flesh of almost all the animals in the jungle and sometimes even kill for sport.

If a lion is feeding on a previously killed prey and sees a new prey, the lion will stop eating the half-eaten meat and kill the newer prey too. This all comes to the territory that the lion keeps. If any animal encroaches on the said territory of the lions, they are bound to be hunted as food.

African lions are seen to continuously keep eating on prey for long durations and no other animals dare or even come close to eating lions. Lions being the largest cats in the world are found a lot in the eastern and southern part of Africa.

You can always see animal channels on television showing prides of lions roaming in the wilderness of Africa.

Exploring A Lion's Diet In The Wild

Lions are apex predators and lions eat all animals in the jungle. There are all kinds of animals that lions add to their diet.

Over 70% of a lion's diet contains meat. Lions need to consume animal meat to get the required amino acids for the lion's body.

Prey can range from anything from antelopes, giraffes, buffaloes, zebras, rhinoceros, young elephants, wild hogs, crocodiles, and hyenas. Lions only kill hyenas and don't eat them. If they find some smaller prey, lions are known to add them to the diet as well.

Some smaller animals are birds, mice, tortoises, lizards, and hares. For the required meat, lions will feed on each and all available animals they are able to capture.

Likely animals that lions eat in the jungle include pigs and wildebeests apart from the already mentioned animals above. Lions eat almost 15 animals in a year and even scavenge kills of other animals. Adult lionesses kill the prey and cubs feed on these corpses.

However, males are still the king of the tribe and dictate life in the jungle. Female lions, even though they are smaller in size, are the lead hunters in the group.

Lions in the wild eat almost 10-25 lb (4.5-11 kg) food in a day. Males are able to have more food than females. In captivity, male lions eat around 8 lb (3.6 kg) of food while females eat 6 lb (2.7 kg). The diet is controlled and they are fed daily.

Lions use specialized teeth and their strong jaws to feed and are said to have one of the largest bites among animals. Lions eat with passion and you can actually see it in how they finish their diet requirements.

What lions don't eat?

Lions eat most of the animals in the animal kingdom, however, there are some animals that lions skip altogether.

Lions also do not eat vegetation as their body is not made to digest the leafy vegetables and plants. There are some other smaller animals like porcupines and rats that lions usually skip as they don't provide much meat that the lions desire to eat.

Lions do not eat hyenas. But lions do kill hyenas as they see them as bullies and there are often clashes between the two species. Hyenas are notorious and always try to steal from the lion's food bank.

Do lions eat each other?

Lions eat other animals but do not eat other lions.

Lions will kill each other if there is conflict in the pride or there is a fight for territory. Usually, male lions fight among themselves but never do they eat each other. Sometimes, a male lion will also kill a female if the latter refuses to mate after taking over a new territory.

Do lions eat humans?

It is not common for lions to eat humans as they are found distances apart, but there are cases of lions killing and feeding on humans.

The man-eaters have sometimes been killed in real life as seen in 1898 where two lions ate 28 workers while building the Kenya-Uganda railway. Tanzania is another place where lions sometimes come into conflict with humans and kill them.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for is a lion a carnivore, then why not take a look at why do lions have manes or lion facts.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

Read full bio >