How Strong Are Lions? [Strength Facts + Comparisons]

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Lions are dubbed kings of the jungle because of their raw power and strength. But is the lion truly king? How strong are lions compared to humans and other big cats?

Lions have a bite force of about 650 PSI and are the second-strongest big cats in the world. They are about four times stronger than humans, but they are weaker than tigers. Jaguars also have a greater bite force compared to lions, but the lions’ size and strike force make them stronger overall.

Here are some lion strength facts:

  • Lion bite force: 650 PSI
  • Adult lion teeth size: 3.2 to 4 inches
  • Lion paw swipe force: 4,500 to 27,500 lb.-ft./s
  • Adult lion paw size: approximately 5 x 5.5 inches
  • Adult lion weight: 90 to 550 pounds

Lion Strength Overview

Lions top the ranks as the second-most powerful big cats in the world. Their bite force isn’t the strongest, but their large bodies and overall strength enable them to fight off the jaguars, which have a more powerful bite. 

When talking about their strength, we should make a difference between the various types of lions as well as males and females.

Are you wondering how powerful are male lions? Male lions have an average bite force of 650 PSI. However, larger and stronger lions can have bites as strong as 1,000 PSI – which is similar to that of a tiger.

In addition to powerful jaws that can crush bones, lions have long, sharp canines that can easily tear through flesh. These felines can have teeth as long as four inches.

The lion swipe force tops the force of all other big cats, except for the tiger. However, the lion’s size plays a crucial role in this department. In fact, the actual body mass of the animal has a direct impact on the strike force.

See also  How Strong Are Tigers? [Strength Facts & Comparison]

Male Lion Vs. Female Lion Strength

Male and female lions share similar strengths. Both genders have a similar bite force, but due to a lower body mass, female lions are weaker than males. 

The table below compares the strike force of male vs. female lions:

SpeciesWeightAvg. lengthAvg. strike force
African lion330 - 550 lbs.265 - 395 lbs.10 ft.9 ft.22,000 lb.-ft./s16,500 lb.-ft./s
Asiatic lion352 - 420 lbs.240 - 265 lbs.9.5 ft.8.5 ft.19,300 lb.-ft./s16,625 lb.-ft./s
Mountain lion135 - 175 lbs.90 - 105 lbs.8 ft.7 ft.7,750 lb.-ft./s4,875 lb.-ft./s

Note: The average striking force above is calculated based on the average lion weight multiplied by the maximum speed lions can reach (50 mph). It should also be noted that mountain lions are a different species of big cats than lions. Lions and mountain lions belong to different subfamilies and genera: Panterinae, Panthera (lions) and Felinae, Puma (mountain lions). 

Also Read: Do Lions Hibernate?

Lion Species Taxonomy

Experts have long recognized two subspecies of extant lions: the African lion and the Asiatic lion. The two were classified based on their habitat (Africa or Asia). However, researchers have recently discovered that lions living in Western and Central Africa are more closely related to Asiatic lions than lions living in Southern and Eastern Africa.

For this reason, lions have been reclassified into two new subspecies since 2017. Panthera leo leo subspecies now includes Asiatic lions and Western and Central African lions (now called Northern subspecies). Panthera leo melanochaita includes the Southern subspecies living in Africa.

Due to size differences between lions living in Africa and those living in Asia, this article uses the old taxonomy in its classification.

See also  4 Types of Mambas (with Examples)

How Much Can A Lion Lift?

A lion can lift over 1,000 pounds. While there are no scientific studies, anecdotal evidence and observations in the wild show that lions can lift and pull large prey such as buffalos. 

However, this doesn’t mean that lions choose to drag prey around. Lions are social animals and live in groups (called pride). Lion prides consist of three to four males and a dozen or more females. The males in the pride defend the pride’s territory, whereas the females are the pride’s leaders and primary hunters.

Lionesses almost always hunt together, going after large prey like wildebeests, antelopes, or zebras.

Once they kill the prey, the size of the pride enables them to feed right then and there without pulling the kill to a safer place or dragging it up on a tree. In most cases, lionesses watch the area while the males feed. After the males have eaten, they switch roles. The last to feed are the cubs.

How Strong Is A Lion Compared To A Human?

Lions are about four times stronger than humans when it comes to bite force. In actual strength, lions are much stronger. 

Not only can they lift heavier loads (about ten times the load an average man could lift), but they are much faster. Thus, their strike force is much greater than that of the average person.

Mountain lions don’t have a bite force quite as strong as the lions, but they still have plenty of force – about 400 PSI. That’s about two and a half times stronger than a human. They also have strong claws and teeth. Thus, despite their smaller size and weaker bite, mountain lions could still kill you.

What Makes Lions So Strong?

Like all big cats, lions are genetically predisposed to be strong. Their bodies are programmed to grow strong bones and muscles so that they can attack and kill large animals. Their strength also enables them to fight off any potential enemies and is the reason why lions have no natural predators.

See also  How Strong Are Silverback Gorillas? [Full Info + Strength Facts]

Evolution could also play a role in their strength. While it is believed that lions and all other cats have a common ancestor, evidence of modern lions dates back to about 17,000 years ago.

Scientists have yet to find whether those early species of lions became extinct due to climatic and ecological conditions, but as lions adapted to their environment, they also became stronger in order to survive.

Despite their natural strength, all lion species alive today are either vulnerable or endangered due to a loss of habitat and illegal killing.

Are Lions Stronger Than Tigers?

Lions are not as strong as tigers. While both predators have similar forces, the larger size of tigers gives them an advantage over lions. Tigers also have stronger muscles, which is a true advantage when it comes to biting.

In fact, lions have a bite force of 1,050 PSI, almost double that of a lion. A larger body mass also increases a tiger’s strike force.

That said, tigers and lions don’t share the same habitat, so they have no chances of crossing paths in the wild.

Also Read: How Strong Are Tigers?

Finishing Up

Lions are strong, stronger than almost all other big cats. They are much stronger than humans, and as a pride, they are strong enough to take down any big animal, including hippos and elephants. The only big cat stronger than them is the tiger, but the two apex predators live in different habitats.

Read More About Lions:

  1. Why Are Lions King Of The Jungle?
  2. Do Lions Eat Hyenas?
  3. Why Do Lions Lick Their Prey?
  4. Can Lions Climb Trees?
  5. Do Lions Hibernate or Migrate?

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.

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