Why Do Lions Roar? Why Is It So Terrifying?

Oluniyi Akande
Oct 12, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
African Lion roars while lying
Age: 3-18
Read time: 10.2 Min

Lions are considered the king of the animal kingdom.

These big cats form the most important part of the forest or a zoo. But why do lions roar?

A lion’s roar is so loud and clear that if you are a citizen of African savannas, you are terrified most of the time in a day. There are several believed reasons behind the loud and terrifying lion’s roar. These wild beasts are considered high pitch animals and kings of the jungle.

It is believed by many experts that the lion’s terrifying and loud roar is because of the adjustment of vocal cords in their throat.

When the lions' roar, their vocal cords get placed stably in a square shape that helps the lion to roar in high pitch sounds without putting extra effort into their lungs.

By roaring, these wild animals are not applying any extra pressure on their vocal cords and hence are very comfortable in roaring so loud that a person or an animal starts to run even after listening from a distance.

To find out more about big cats, feel free to check out why do lions have manesandwhy do tigers have stripes.

How far can you hear a lion’s roar?

A lion’s roar can be heard from a distance of approximately 5 mi (8 km). They roar as loud as 114 decibels, and their roaring is 25 times louder than a human’s voice.

Due to the strengthened vocal cords in the throat of the lion, they can comfortably roar as louder as they could without pressurizing their lungs. Lions and tigers do not have to add extra force to their lungs to accumulate louder sounds.

Their vocal cords are placed stably to vibrate at a fixed pattern. Because of this stabilization in their vocal cords, the air reaching to their vocal cords produces high pitch sounds effortless.

A lion’s roar could be listened to from great distances because of the high pitch sounds they produce in the air. These big cats are the loudest animals which are known for their frightening roars which can alert any stranger from a good distance.

If you are one of the African savannas, you must be aware of the number of sounds produced by lions while roaring which are distributed in the air of the forest.

If you are trekking in a jungle, be aware if you listen to a lion’s roar.

Even though the lion may not be close to you, you can still hear his roaring from around 5 mi (8 km) very clearly. In the entire cat species, lions are the only types of big cats that socialize more as compared to other cats.

They are the only animal species that live in a group protecting each other like a family. The group of 15 lions staying together as a family are considered as pride.

There are many reasons associated with the roaring of lions.

Where on the one side, female lions roar rather than growl to find their young cubs that may be lost in the jungle or to communicate with their mate.

On the other side, male lions which are the protector of his family roar to warn their family members about any danger around themselves. They use roaring as a sign to communicate in their language for all the happenings around them.

Lion roaring in National Park of Africa

Do all types of lions roar?

In the competition of roaring so loud and clear, lions are not only the participants. Jaguars, leopards, lions, and tigers are believed to be closely related. These four related beasts are very well known for high sound volume while roaring.

These four big cat animals belong to the same genus which is called 'Panthera'. Loud pitches of lions and tigers make them special among all the animals of the entire animal kingdom. Lions and tigers are considered the pride of the forest.

Where lions and tigers are commonly seen as big cat animals in several zoos, jaguars and leopards are the least seen roaring animals. Among these, lions are the loudest animals in the world.

If we talk about all types of lions, male lions roar much louder than female ones. Do female lions also roar which can be heard from a good distance.

But if we compare the two, lions have the loudest roaring ability than female lions or lionesses. The reason is the difference between the pitch of the two is the cause of their roaring.

Where lionesses roar simply to communicate with their young cubs, a lion being the king of the jungle, roars to mark their territory in the whole jungle. A female lion having a lower pitch roaring is used for communication purposes mainly.

She growls most of the time rather than roaring to call their young cubs. Whereas male lions are the head of the family and protect their family from predators.

It takes the help of his roaring to keep the prey or human away from his family. It is a way to warn the hunters not to come close to his family.

How and why do lions roar?

The main reason for the lion's roar being louder than any other roaring animal in a zoo is because of the vocal folds in its throat. Where in other animals, these vocal folds form a triangle shape, a lion’s vocal fold forms a square shape.

This flat folding of vocal cords allows the lions to produce deep and terrifying sounds with ease. When the air is passed with these flat-shaped vocal cords, the sound produced by them is deep, having high pitches.

These high-pitched sounds can reach longer distances very easily by striking in the air easily.

The sounds produced by a male lion have a very high frequency which enables humans and other animals to listen to them very clearly. Whereas, unlike males, female lions have low-frequency sounds.

Without applying any force to the muscles of the brain and lungs, lions can have high-pitched sounds which are so intense that help them to surround the air to a good distance. Because of the vocal folds placed stably, the air that passes by them strikes between the folds and gives immense sounds comfortably.

Other cats like jaguars, tigers, and leopards have the same vocal folds. This is the reason because of the vocal cords why lions are also considered roaring animals of the forest.

Though the number of folds in their vocal cords may vary from other big cats and lions. That is why lions are observed to have the loudest roars among the entire animal kingdom.

The powerful sounds produced by lions in the air of jungles are a sign of communication and warning given to other animals along with their family.

It is seen by experts that a lion’s roar is somewhat like a baby crying for attention from his parents. The difference between the two is the pitch.

Where a baby’s cry is much softer, a lion’s roar is much deeper and intense. These big cats being able to give intimidating sounds from long distances can make prey and enemies run away in fear.

Do lions roar to scare prey?

It is a fact that animals can hear the sounds of strangers from a long distance. The sounds that are not audible to humans, animals can listen and notice from where the sounds are coming.

Lions also have the advantage of hearing voices that are not audible to us.

They in return, use their high-pitched sounds to scare the prey or any danger coming towards them. Lions do not always roar to scare their prey, but it is a very common reason used by many lions along with other animals to produce threatening sounds.

When lions become old with lost teeth and are not capable enough to catch and hunt other animals to feed themselves. They have the main and very crucial role in the pride which is to scare the prey.

To protect the pride, they are part of, they roar loudly whenever they feel any prey reaching towards their family.

As you know that they can feel and hear even the minute sounds as low as the moving of a leaf on the ground. With the voice, they have excellent listening skills which they use to hear the smallest sounds produced near them.

They can easily detect the difference between the sounds produced by the members of his pride and by strange creatures or humans. If they feel any weird noise that is not familiar to their family members, they use their intense and deep roaring sounds to scare the potential prey.

Roaring and producing terrifying sounds are a sign to warn the prey not to come close to his pride else it will be the biggest blunder of his life.

No one is unaware of the fact that lions are hunted for many commercial purposes. The killing of lions for their skin and teeth has made them an endangered species in the world.

In recent years, many National parks are formed where lions are being protected by local governments so that the remaining ones can be alive for longer durations. These national parks are made in the natural habitat of lions where they can live peacefully.

Most of the human activities are restricted within these areas. With all these safety measures provided in several national parks across the world, lions cannot be dependent on humans for their survival.

They try themselves not to get hunted or killed by humans.

For which they use their terrifying and intimidating sounds to scare them. No human can stand after listening to the horrifying sound of a male lion.

Do tigers roar louder than lions?

The roars produced by both big cats that are tigers and lions are very different in nature. The difference in their roaring sounds and timings is because of the purpose they serve through their roaring.

A lion is a more socialized animal that lives in the pride of almost 15 lions. On the other hand, tigers tend to roar and produce sound for individual purposes. Whenever they detect any danger or have to warn a prey, they produce loud sounds that are called tiger’s roaring.

Lions are social animal that do not really like to live alone. They are always found in groups that are known as the pride of lions.

There are approximately 15 lions in pride that work and live together as a family.

You would have listened to many stories of a male lion to be a leader of the pride. A male lion is always a leader of the pride that conducts morning and evening and even night conversations with all the members of his pride.

They have their morning, evening, and night sessions on a regular purpose where any lion who wants to join the roaring league can join the pride. In the conversations which are held two times a day, each lion is told and trained to produce rhythmic sounds.

These rhythmic sounds help the pride members to configure their members from the family. These meetings are more of a teaching lesson for the new ones to make them prepare for the obstacles they will face in the big forest.

They have a main motto to tell each pride member that they are strong, and this place belongs to them.

They are taught that no one can take this place of theirs and more of a territory of theirs. They own the place and are the kings of the jungle.

Whereas on the other side, tigers are not social animals. They live and hunt other animals individually.

Unlike lions, they do not have groups and families to protect and take care of. When a tiger roars, the absolute reason can be the rage of anger on other animals or lions most probably.

You have heard that tigers and lions end up having fought many times which are popular as 'catfights'. You would have heard many stories of a tiger roaring when he is having a fight with lions. Another possible reason could be the danger they have detected from the prey coming towards them.

In response, they roar loudly to keep the prey away from them. Tigers usually do not roar or produce loud sounds to protect their loved ones, unlike lions.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do lions roar then why not take a look at why do wolves howl, or Asiatic Lion Facts.

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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