We don’t call the lions the kings of the jungle for nothing. These beautiful big cats have a fearsome presence and a ferocious appetite to match it.
That being said, lions spend very little time each day eating. Most of their day is spent sleeping, with just a handful of waking hours in which to fit in snacking, socializing, washing, and hunting.
When they do get to eating, however, they certainly make the most of it.
This article will look at how often lions eat and how much they need to consume to survive.
How Often Do Lions Eat?
Lions will eat every day if there is food available. Fully grown lionesses require an average of 11 pounds (5 kilograms) of food per day, and adult male lions need 15 pounds (7 kilograms). However, food is not always available, so lions have adapted to survive on water alone for up to 14 days.
How Often Do Lions Eat
In a perfect world, lions can eat pounds and pounds of meat every day, provided food is available. More realistically, they are likely only to eat every 3 to 4 days when the pride makes a kill.
In a time of abundance, lions may feed more than once per day, filling up on as much meat as possible.
In times of shortage, they will eat whatever small birds and mammals they can lay their paws on in order to survive.
During tough times, lions are also known to eat certain plants as a way to take in water and keep themselves hydrated.
What Lions Eat
Before we can answer the question of how often lions eat, we need to take a closer look at their diets.
You see, when they eat and how much they eat is very much dependent on what food is available to them at any given time.
Lions are carnivores, meaning, they eat only meat. They’re surprisingly unfussy when it comes to prey, though.
These powerful big cats will hunt for their meals by chasing down buffalos, bucks, zebras, wild hogs, giraffes, baby elephants, or even birds and mice.
And when live prey isn’t in the nearby vicinity, lions have also been known to scavenge, feeding on the leftovers of other animals or stealing recent kills from other predators.
How Often Do Lions Hunt
Lions’ hunting habits are directly tied to how often they eat. When there is no scarcity of prey, lions and lionesses will hunt every 3 to 4 days, depending on the size of their kill.
A small pride feeding on a large prey species may only need to hunt again after 5 to 7 days.
Lions often feed on their trophy until it is finished before going out to hunt again. However, this is only what has been observed as a general rule and is not set in stone.
Lions can be somewhat greedy, and if food is abundant, they can eat the equivalent of 25% of their body weight in a single day.
This might also mean they will hunt every day and make the most of the opportunity of plenty of food.
On the other hand, these big cats are sometimes faced with a huge shortage of prey, in which case they may need to go for days without eating while members of the pride try desperately to find sustenance.
In these instances, lions have been known to snack on small animals like mice, birds, rats, and lizards, although none of these can fulfill their nutritional needs.
After 6 to 7 days of not eating, lions will start to become weak. By 14 days, they will be in danger of succumbing to malnutrition.
How Often Do Lions Eat in Captivity
In captivity, lions are fed meat every day, usually a variety of beef, mutton, chicken, goat, and rabbit, and normally between 8 to 22 pounds (4 to 10 kilograms) per day.
They are also given supplemental snacks like bones, which they would naturally feed on in the wild for extra calcium.
Captive and protected lions can survive on slightly less food than wild lions because they expend far less energy by not hunting for their prey themselves.
Instead, most of their day is spent resting and digesting.
Frequently Asked Questions about How Often Lions Eat
Why do the male lions of the pride eat first?
Lion prides are communities in which there is a clear-cut leader, known as the alpha male. The alpha male has an important job protecting the pride and making sure no one invades their territory. Because of his stature, the alpha male is respected by the pride and afforded the privilege to eat first.
Are there any animals that hunt lions?
Lions are apex predators. Hence, they’re at the top of the food chain and have no enemies out there to eat them. However, hyenas and cheetahs, in particular, will compete with lions for prey. Unfortunately, the greatest enemy of the lion is the human being.
Do lions live and hunt in groups?
Lions are the only type of big cat that live in prides. They stay together, hunt together, and travel together. A pride can range from 2 to 40 lions and is led by an alpha male. Female cubs usually stay with the pride they’re born into, whereas male lions will leave and start or join other prides upon maturity.
Long associated with royalty, it is no surprise to learn that these majestic creatures prefer to eat like kings when they can.
And with that amount of meat in their systems, it’s no wonder they grow to be as big and strong as they are.
Of course, their feedings conditions are not always ideal, but luckily these beauties are built for survival, and if they need kicks in, they are usually able to find enough prey to get by.