For all of their roaring, growling, and ferociousness, lions are family
animals and truly
social in their own communities. They usually live in groups of 15 or
more animals called prides. Prides can be as small as 3 or as big as 40 animals.
Each pride generally will have no more than two adult males. While the females usually live with the pride for life, the males often stay for only two to four years. After that they go off on their own or are evicted by other males who take over the pride.
In a pride, lions hunt prey, raise cubs, and defend their territory together.
In prides the females do most of the hunting and cub rearing.
Usually all the lionesses in the pride are related, mothers, daughters and sisters.
Many of the females in the pride give birth at about the same time. A cub may nurse other females as well as its mother.
In a pride, even though the females do most of the hunting, it is often observed that the male will eat first, and then the females. This way, the males get big and strong.
The main job of males in the pride is defending the pride's territory.
A male's roar, usually heard after sunset, can carry for as far a five miles (eight kilometers). The roar warns off intruders and helps round up stray members of the pride.
When a new male becomes part of the pride it is not unusual for him to kill all the cubs, insuring that all future cubs will have his genes.
Males who wish to take over a pride will challenge the males in control. One form this sometimes takes is a 'stare-down', where two males will sit a few feet apart, face-to-face, and stare at each other. The first one to break his stare is the 'loser'. This can go on for many hours. Eventually, most pride control power struggles end in some form of physical confrontation.
Fights to the death occur occasionally, and many a male in his prime has fallen acquiring or defending a pride. Surviving losers often become nomads, and have to fend for themselves. They tend to lose weight, and scavenge more than they hunt as they grow older. However, it is not unknown for another lion to share their food with one of these old nomads.
Lions of both sexes will rub each other in greeting. This rubbing can be quite vigorous and forceful. Males will sometimes knock each other over when they rub. This rubbing serves a purpose. There are scent glands on the corners of the mouth. Rubbing deposits this scent on the other lion. This scent is kind of like a mark of bonding or ownership, and the other lion will relish this mark.
All Lions spend a lot of their time resting. They are inactive for about 20 hours per day.Back to top