Lion and Lioness – Their Roles & Differences in the Pride

August 2, 2022

Lions have long been known as the kings of the jungle, but what about the lioness? Is she a hunter, or simply a family-orientated animal that plays the loving mother and partner?

Physically the stronger of the two, the lion needs to be tough enough to maintain its territory. But a lioness can be powerful herself when the moment arises.

Being such big animals it’s hard to imagine that a lion is one of the top five fastest animals in Africa. But even though lions are bigger in size and stronger than a lioness, most of the hunting is done by the female.

So here we discuss the difference between the lioness and the lion.

If this interests you, why not read the ultimate showdown: Jaguar vs Leopard.

The Female Lion – Her Role in The Pride

One of the biggest questions asked is: Do female lions hunt? Actually, the lioness’s main role is to act as the hunter. The pride gets most of its food from her hunts and the first bite goes to the king of the pride, the lion.

Not only is the lioness’s body more flexible than the lion’s, they also don’t have a mane that protects them from the African heat that beats down on them. With their sleeker and longer body, they are ideal hunters when you compare them to male lions. The female lions also have to care for the pride cubs, feeding and protecting them.

The Male Lion – His Role in The Pride

The king of the jungle’s main role is to protect the pride and its territory. Since lionesses hunt, the lion only goes on hunts when it becomes a real necessity. Very much a lazy king, they remain in the shade protecting themselves from the sun.

As the head of the pride, even with all his laziness, he will still remain in prime fighting shape. It’s as if they are preserving their strength for when other lions come to battle to try and claim his territory. Since it’s his duty to protect their pride, the rest of the group takes care of all his needs, a prime example of why he is called the king of the jungle.

One of the best places to catch these beasts in action is the Kruger National Park.

Lioness and cubs

Lion vs Lioness – Who is Faster

So the next question to answer should be: who is the fastest of the pride? That’s easy, it’s the lioness.

A lioness reaches 45 mph. It’s easy to understand, especially since a lioness’s body is made for hunting, and she is much lighter. The lioness’s body is sleek and flexible, making it easier for her to outrun the head of the pride.

A lion can reach a top speed up to 35 mph which is slower than a lioness. Easily explained by just looking at their different bodies. The lion is much larger and heavier so moving his weight around makes him slower. So in the race, place your bets on the lioness to leave the lion in her dust.

Lioness and lion

Lioness vs Lion – Who’s Stronger

This question all depends on what you are looking to find. Both are strong in their own right and both have a weakness that is actually an advantage to the other.

Lions, who are heavier and larger, are in fact stronger. With their bulkier build, they were made for fights with other lions. Early researchers also suggested that a lion’s mane was for protecting his neck from fatal blows when fighting one another. If you believe in that opinion, then you can add it to the argument that male lions are tougher. But if you don’t, you still can’t take away the males’ extensive size over the females.

A lioness is sleeker, flexible, and faster. They are built for hunting but not built for fighting their own kind. There are scenarios where the lioness has been in fights but it’s much more seldom than with a male.

So to sum it up, the lion is stronger based on their weight and how much bigger they are than the lioness.


Do Lions and Lionesses Attack One Another

Fights do break out between the sexes. If a lion from a different pride attacks, the majority of the time it will be targeted at the pride’s head. In some cases, lions attack the cubs to assert dominance in the pack or to initiate combat with the pride’s strongest lion.

In some cases, a lioness would attack a lion, especially when their cubs are targeted. When their cubs are attacked, female lions group up to try and protect their own. In 2018 there was also a case where a lioness killed the cub’s father in a zoo in the United States.

Lions main Characteristics

  • Males combat with other males over territory
  • Very lazy during the daytime and can be seen resting in shade most parts of the day
  • Male lions receive the first bite after a successful hunt
  • Don’t go hunting unless necessary
  • Males have a mane unique to them
  • Length can reach 250 cm
  • Bodyweight can reach up to 250 kg

Lioness main Characteristics

  • Lioness doesn’t often get into combat
  • Lionesses are the primary hunters in their pride
  • They kill their prey and bring it to the pride and serve it to the dominant prey so they can eat first
  • They are the more active members of the pride
  • Looks after and raises lion cubs
  • They never grow a mane
  • Length can reach up to 175 cm
  • Weight can reach up to 190 kg


Lion Vs Lioness – Who’s Better?

In the battle of female lions vs male lions, there is no correct answer to the question. Yes, based on how much work the lioness does, it’s easy to see why people would think she is superior. But does the lion’s main role as the leader not equal her productivity? It’s safe to say that without one, the other will struggle.

Lionesses won’t be safe and the cubs won’t be protected and with such a weight and power disadvantage, she will become easy prey to any male lion. Male lions might be able to survive on their own but with their mane being such a disadvantage, they won’t last long especially since their body isn’t made for hunting.

So as long as both males and females play their roles, they will remain the kings and queens of the jungle.

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