The Differences Between Lions and Tigers

Lions and tigers are two of the five species that make up the Panthera genus, which form part of the feline family. The other three are leopards, jaguars, and snow leopards. In this article, we’ll tell you the main differences between lions and tigers, the two most ferocious creatures in the animal kingdom. 

There are six subspecies of tiger (Panthera tigris), of which the Bengal tiger represents 80% of the total population of tigers. All of them are found on the Asian continent. On the other hand, there are also six species of lion (Panthera leo), one of which lives in Asia.

Differences in size

Tigers are the largest felines in the world and can reach up to 12.5 feet in length (including the tail) and up to 650 pounds. On their part, lions tend to weigh between 330 and 550 kilos and measure between 6.5 and 11 feet. Interestingly, lions have longer tails than tigers. 

Habitats of Lions and Tigers

Lions come from Africa whereas tigers are native to Asia. However, until relatively recently, lion habitats used to include a large part of Eurasia, from Greece to India. In fact, there is still a subspecies of lion called the Asiatic lion, which is also known as the Persian or Indian Lion (P.l. persica), in the Gir Forest in western India. It is in severe danger of extinction.

The lion lives on the large grasslands and open plains of the African savanna, from the east of the continent to Senegal and from south of the Sahara to South Africa, except for the jungles of the Congo. 

The tiger lives from Siberia to southeastern Asia, including India and the island of Sumatra. However, its population is very dispersed and it is calculated that there are around 3,800 individuals currently living, down from the 100,000 there were at the beginning of the 20th century.  For this reason, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), considers this species to be in danger of extinction

On its part, lions have also suffered a severe setback throughout the 20th century. Even so, it’s in a better situation than the tiger and today it is calculated that there are between 16,500 and 47,000 individuals. Still, the lion is cataloged by the IUCN as being vulnerable because its population has continued to decline in recent decades.

Lions and tigers as hunters

Both animals are carnivores and skilled hunters. In fact, they form part of the largest group of predators in the natural world. However, whereas tigers hunt alone and at night, female lions hunt in groups and during the day and night. 

To give you an idea, female lions need to eat an average of 11 pounds of meat per day and male lions an average of 15 pounds. In addition, in the case of lions, the females are the ones who hunt in groups and bring food to the males, who limit themselves to eating and protecting the pack. Likewise, on many occasions they rob prey from other animals such as cheetahs or leopards.

Lions can reach speeds of 50 miles per hour whereas tigers can reach slightly faster speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. Lions’ diet includes gazelles, zebras, impalas, giraffes, and antelope, among other animals. In turn, tigers prefer wild boar, deer, and buffalo, although they also eat fish, birds, apes, and reptiles. 

Tiger and lion reproduction

Tigers and lions have very similar reproductive characteristics, given that both reach sexual maturity at between 2 and 4 years of age. Lion gestation lasts between 100 and 110 days and once the offspring are born, they take some time before being introduced to the pack.  

Tiger gestation, on the other hand, lasts around 103 days and they tend to have between 2 and 3 young. The mothers spend at least 3 years with the offspring until they reach sexual maturity.

Fun facts about tigers

Tigers are good swimmers and like to spend time in the water. Therefore, they usually live by rivers or marshy areas. 

Another fun fact about tigers is that their stripes are unique to each individual, so their pattern is like a fingerprint that is marked on their skin, not just their fur. 

The tigers’ well-known jump can reach up to 16 feet in height and 33 feet in length thanks to the boost from its muscular paws. This makes it one of the highest jumping mammals, only surpassed by the puma. 

Fun facts about lions

Without a doubt, the most notable characteristic of male lions is their majestic manes.  Despite what you may think, lions have a relatively short life expectancy. In the wild, females do not tend to live beyond 14 years and males beyond 8, although in captivity they can live for up to 20 years. In addition, it is the only species in the Panthera genus that lives in packs.

Another of the most interesting facts is that lions are one of the biggest “sleepyheads” in the animal world; they spend around 13 hours a day sleeping

If you liked this article, you may be interested in learning about the difference between the cheetah and the leopard. At the Oasys MiniHollywood zoological reserve, we have various species of felines, including lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, and even a subspecies of Siberian tiger which is in severe danger of extinction. We hope to see you soon!