Do Lions Eat Snakes? [Here’s What Else They Eat]

Photo: Tara Shankar Snai / Shutterstock

The lion, or king of the jungle as it’s often called, is known for hunting, attacking, and eating many other animals. Some of these are as large as wildebeests, crocodiles, and rhinos!

But do lions ever eat snakes?

Lions are apex predators and obligate carnivores that eat a variety of other animals to survive. Although snakes are not a common component of a lion’s diet, it’s possible a lion would attack and eat a snake if it came across one. Lions are faster and more powerful than snakes and are more than capable of successfully attacking them.

In this article, we’ll discuss what makes up a lion’s diet, what they eat in the wild and in captivity, and how much they eat.

We’ll also talk about whether lions and snakes fight, whether snakes eat lions, and if snake bites can be fatal for lions.

Are Snakes Part Of A Lion’s Diet?

Lions are obligate carnivores, meaning that they survive by eating meat and can’t digest plants properly.

All other cats are obligate carnivores as well. They must eat meat to obtain specific amino acids that are necessary for them to be healthy.

Lions, in particular, eat a diet that consists of more than 70% meat. They are apex predators, so they are at the top of the food chain and don’t have any predators themselves. This is where lions get their nickname of “the king of the jungle.”

Clearly, lions are very skilled hunters. They’re intelligent, strong, and have sharp teeth and claws that enable them to attack nearly any animal of their choosing. They most often hunt other animals that live within their environment. 

What Do Lions Eat In The Wild?

The diet of a lion may include:

  • Zebras
  • Birds
  • Pigs
  • Baboons
  • Rhinoceroses
  • Wild hogs
  • Hares
  • Crocodiles
  • Hippos
  • Giraffes
  • Mice
  • Buffaloes
  • Antelopes
  • Lizards
  • Small elephants
  • Tortoises
  • Wildebeests
  • Warthogs
  • Carrion (decaying animal flesh)
See also  Do Beavers Eat Meat? (Are They Carnivores?)

As you can see, snakes don’t make the list. However, lions are inclined to attack and nearly eat any animal they come across, so it’s safe to assume that they would eat a snake if given the opportunity.

A general rule is that lions are happy to prey on animals that range from 110 pounds to over 660 pounds. However, they’ll eat smaller animals as well if they get the chance.

Lions will hunt animals even if they aren’t particularly hungry. For example, if they’re eating a recent kill and another animal comes by, they will stop eating and attack it.

The average adult lion kills 15 animals each year. However, their diet primarily consists of the corpses of other lions’ kills.

Scavenging, which means taking other animals’ meals or eating leftovers from another lion’s kill, accounts for about 50% of a wild lion’s diet.

Lionesses do most of the hunting, but male lions always get to eat first. Typically, the larger males will eat first, and the smaller, weaker lions may or may not get their share of the meal, depending on how large it is.

What Do Lions Eat In Captivity?

Lions who are kept in zoos have a much different diet than wild lions.

Here are several of the most common components of a captive lion’s diet:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Rabbit
  • Horse
  • Sheep
  • Specially formulated cat food

How Much Do Lions Eat?

The average lion living in its natural environment typically eats between 10 and 25 pounds of food every day. 

If food is available in larger quantities, male lions will eat as much as 95 pounds in a day, while females will eat up to 55 pounds of food in a day. Lions can eat up to 15% of their body weight in a single meal!

See also  Do Otters Lay Eggs? No! (Here’s What They Do)

The recommendation for captive lions is for males to eat about eight pounds of food per day, and for females to eat about six pounds of food per day. 

When there’s plenty of prey around, lions spend the vast majority of their time sleeping, resting, or sitting around. They only hunt for two or three hours out of the entire day.

Do Lions Ever Eat Each Other?

It’s rare for lions to eat each other, and other lions certainly aren’t a regular part of the average lion’s diet.

Sometimes lions will kill each other if there’s a change in territory control, a conflict within the pride, or a lioness who refuses to mate.

Are Humans Part Of A Lion’s Diet?

It’s uncommon for lions to eat humans, but it has happened before. In 1898, two lions ate 28 railway workers in Tsavo, Kenya over the span of nine months.

Another place where lions have eaten multiple humans is in Tanzania. Scientists released a report stating that more than 560 villagers were attacked by lions from the year 1990 to 2005.

Do Lions And Snakes Fight?

Lions and snakes don’t fight very frequently, although you may be able to find some videos of fights taking place between these two animals.

In a fight, lions have several advantages over snakes. They move more quickly, have more perceptive senses, and possess more biting power. 

Lions can run 50 mph, while the world’s fastest snake, a sidewinder, can move at up to 18 mph.

Although snakes often have venomous fangs, it’s more probable that a lion would be able to attack and kill the snake before the snake could bite it.

If the snake did bite the lion, the lion would still be likely to kill the snake before the venom had much of an impact.

See also  Can Llamas And Alpacas Breed? [Answered & Explained]

Are Lions Part Of A Snake’s Diet?

We’ve talked about whether lions eat snakes, but do snakes ever eat lions?

A snake’s diet is mostly made up of meat. Its diet may include:

  • Other snakes
  • Lizards
  • Eggs
  • Snails
  • Small mammals
  • Insects
  • Fish

Recently, in Kenya, researchers came across an African rock python that was in the process of consuming a hyena weighing 150 pounds.

However, this seems to be quite the outlier, as most snakes cannot eat animals of that size.

A research assistant stated that while lion cubs may be on the menu for some large pythons, adult lions would most likely kill the python before it could do much damage.

Can A Snake Bite Kill A Lion?

Lions are not immune to snake venom, so it is possible for a lion to die from a snake bite. It doesn’t take place very often, but there have been recorded instances of this occurring.

For example, a lion in Gir National Park in India died after it was bitten by a venomous snake in 2020.

Some animals that seem to be unaffected by venom include woodrats, honey badgers, pigs, ground squirrels, and skunks.


As obligate carnivores and apex predators, lions can hunt and eat nearly any animal that comes their way. They don’t often eat snakes, but because they tend to attack any animal that comes near them, it’s possible that lions would eat snakes if they were in their territory.

While a venomous snake could kill a lion, it’s more likely the lion would come out on top in a fight. This is because lions are larger, faster, and stronger than snakes.

Read More About Lions:

  1. Why Are Lions King Of The Jungle?
  2. Why Do Lions Lick Their Prey?
  3. How Strong Are Lions?
  4. Are Lions Friendly?
  5. Can Lions Climb Trees?

James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

Recent Posts