Do Lions Eat Fish? Do They Really Like Fish?

We all know that lions are fearless and one of the most powerful animals who can attack animals twice as big as them. No animals in the wild are safe near the king of the jungle. But what about fish? Do lions eat fish? All animals have pretty diverse diets though some stick to the same food all their life (like pandas). What about lions? Here, we are going to try to take a closer look at lions and their diet to what kind of unusual foods a lion has eaten.

Do Lions Eat Fish?

Yes. Lions do eat fish. In fact, lions eat all kinds of meat and fish is no exception. As lions are hypercarnivorous animals, meat constitutes more than 70% of their diet and is the primary source of nutrients. Even their body (from their teeth to claws to their guts) is designed in such a way that they can digest meat easily. As they need meat in large quantities they tend to hunt bigger animals in groups (pride). The most common prey of lions is zebra, deer, antelopes, and giraffes. So, though lions eat fish, they may not actively hunt fish as they do not provide enough food sources for them.

Lions don’t spend much time in water like other big cats (tigers and leopards), that’s why when we think of lions, we picture them in dry savannas, grasslands, dust, and heat. When it comes to water animals, lions only hunt them occasionally.

Can Lions Eat Fish?

Yes. Lions have the potential to eat fish because fish is another type of meat and lions are carnivores, which means they must eat meat to survive. So, they eat fish and digest it without falling sick or suffering from indigestion. Lion’s body does not produce all the amino acids that it requires for survival, so in order to fulfill its nutritional requirements, lions must eat meat or flesh of other animals.

Do Lions Hunt Fish In The Wild?

Generally, most lions will stick to eating land mammals above all other kinds of creatures. This is because lions themselves are mammals and thus they are naturally built to hunt on land for their survival. They do not go into the water when it is a large water body and most probably inhabited by dangerous aquatic animals like hippopotamuses or crocodiles. Lions are not built for hunting in the water. Obviously, they can sure from one side of the river to the other but still, they don’t prefer to hunt in the water.

Photo by Eelco Bohtlingk on Unsplash

Lions have a better success rate of hunting on land than in water. So, usually, they don’t go hunting for fish in bodies of water where they themselves can be the prey to other predators like crocodiles. And even if a lion tried to live on a diet of fish, they need to catch around 10 largemouth bass fish to get the same amount of nutrition as a zebra or a gazelle. As lions are not built for hunting in the water as we discussed already, they are way less likely to have any success at catching a single fish, let alone ten!

So, it makes no sense for a lion to actively hunt out fish and try to live off them instead of hunting for other types of comparatively easier and bigger prey like zebras or antelopes. Therefore, lions do not bother themselves trying to hunt fish and put their efforts into catching more bountiful prey, instead. However, this does not mean that a lion won’t eat fish if they find a freshly dead fish.

Do Lions Eat Fish In Captivity?

While in many zoos lions are fed the food that they actually eat in the wild, still we can see in some zoos that staff feed them fish. This is only because zookeepers are trying to bring in different food varieties to lions’ nutrition. However, fish would not be the main source of their food even in captivity. They might get it on occasion but never as a regular meal.

Also, feeding the lions what they eat in the wild is not always possible as they can’t be fed with zebras and antelopes in zoos. That’s why they get beef, sheep, and chicken instead. There is no doubt that zoo nutritionists always try to match the lion’s diet to its wild habitat, but it’s not practical now in the present scenario. So most of the time, they have to develop replacements with the same mineral and vitamin content. Most zoos find the use of live prey unethical, and also it is not allowed in many areas as they have to abide by local laws.

So, zoo keepers use other methods of enrichment when it comes to lion food. Also, when farm animals die and when they aren’t good enough for human consumption they will be sent to zoos.

Also Read: Do Lions Hate Water? Can Lions Swim Or They Scared?

Photo by Pawan Sharma on Unsplash

How Much Do Lions Eat Per Day?

An average adult male lion can grow up to 8.2 ft. and it can weigh around 420 lbs (190 kg), while females are slightly smaller than males, with a weight of 280 lbs (127 kg) and 6 ft. long. Lions are the second largest big cats, just right after tigers. A healthy adult lion can survive without food for around two weeks (14 days). So, after going a long period without food, they tend to eat enormous quantities of food in one day.

In fact, a fully grown male lion can eat up to 110 lbs (50 kg) of meat in one sitting! This is almost a quarter of their total body weight, which is crazy. However, this doesn’t mean they eat in such a quantity every time they eat, it happens only when they haven’t eaten anything for more than a week.

In the wild, lions eat every 3-5 days and their average consumption is 15 lbs (7 kg) per day for males, and for a lioness, it’s 10 lbs (4.5 kg) a day. Even in zoos, the zoo keepers will try to mimic their natural eating routine and they will feed them every few days.

Other Animals That Lion Eats;

  • Big Mammals: Mammals are the favorite hunt and food of lions. They will hunt in a pack (pride) if they have to hunt big animals such as hippos and rhinos.
  • Reptiles: They also hunt reptiles but not regularly.
  • Aquatic Animals: As lions can eat any meat, aquatic animals also cannot escape from being a part of their diet. But lions hunt aquatic animals only in special cases and occasions.
  • Small Animals: Lions even hunt many small animals like rabbits, rats, birds, etc. Mostly cubs (young lions) go after small animals.

Lions eat fish even though they may not be their favorite food source. They prefer to hunt bigger animals because they offer more food and also because they are more skilled in hunting on the land. This does not mean lions dislike fish, they simply don’t hunt them, and will only eat fish when they are easily accessible.


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