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Lions are big cats, in more ways than one! Lions are members of the cat family. The scientific term for this family is ‘felidae‘.

A member of the felidae family is called a felid.

The term ‘big cats‘ is often used to separate larger members of the felidae family, such as lions, tigers and jaguars. from the smaller members.

Lions are the second largest felids, being slightly smaller than tigers.

An adult male lion may weigh around 225kg, and measure more than 3 metres from nose to tail.

The lion’s golden colour provides camouflage when it is hunting. A thick band of darker hair grows around a male lion’s neck and shoulders. This is known as a mane. Lions’ manes can vary in colour and size; some male lions appear not to have manes at all.

Female lions, known as lionesses, are smaller than the males, and do not have manes.

Lions are at the top of the food chain. This means that an adult lion has no natural predators.


Lions are mainly nocturnal (active during the night). Lions hunt at night because it’s often too hot during the day.

Pride members keep track of one another by roaring. Both males and females have a very powerful roar that can be heard up to 8 km (5 mi.) away.

Males and females take on very different roles in the pride. Male lions spend their time guarding their territory and their cubs. They maintain the boundaries of their territory, which can be as large as 260 sq. km (100 sq. mi.), by roaring, marking it with urine, and chasing off intruders. Their thick manes, a unique trait to male lions, protect their necks when they fight with challengers. lions are the primary hunters of the group. They are smaller and more agile than males. But since their prey is still generally faster than them, they use teamwork to bring an animal down. Fanning out, they form a semicircle, with the smaller, weaker lionesses herding the prey towards the center. Then the stronger females knock the animal down and make the kill.

Lions usually hunt at night. Their prey includes antelopes, buffaloes, zebras, young elephants, rhinos, hippos, wild hogs, crocodiles and giraffes. But they also sometimes eat smaller prey like mice, birds, hares, lizards, and tortoises. They are not above stealing kills from other carnivores, like hyenas, wild dogs, cheetahs, and leopards, or scavenging spoiled meat.

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