We know lions to be the kings of the jungle and a true symbol of wildlife in Africa, but there is more to them than the folklore humans have conjured up over the years. In reality, these animals are just as goofy as your cats at home, and there’s way more cool things about them than just their diet or where they roam. Here are some weird facts you probably didn’t know about lions.
It’s not their sharp teeth you have to worry about
If you’re looking for a real-life Freddy Kruger, lions are it. It’s a common misconception that the jowls of the lions are how they can maul their prey, but it’s not (even though they’re no walk in the park either). It’s their claws. Lion’s claws are so incredibly sharp and retractable that a simple nick or a swipe from them can leave you looking like a pastrami sandwich at a New York deli. Think about the many times your pet cat, Mittens has playfully stabbed you with his claws. Now imagine his nails are ten times bigger. Yes. You understand now.
It’s more of a matriarchal society
Just by looking at the males and their magnificent manes, you’d think they hold the pride together in one piece. Actually, its the female lionesses that do all the work of hunting and raising the cubs (not that much different from your average household.) Tsk Tsk. Men. Male lions are amazingly lazy and sluggish most of the time. They spend their days lounging in the sun while the females go on a hunting spree to bring home antelopes and other meals for the family. Female lions stay with their clan for life but males that eventually reach their maturity will leave the pride to go out on their own.
The lion’s biggest enemies aren’t what you think
Well, obviously poachers are responsible for dwindling their population from 200,000 to 20,000 over the last century, but their natural enemy in the animal kingdom isn’t another giant mammal with razor-sharp teeth. Lions would much rather take their chances with a crocodile or an elephant than engage in a battle with… *drumroll* …a porcupine. The reason this tiny animal is the bane of the lion’s existence is because once they get stabbed by dozens of these super sharp porcupine needles, they are defeated. It’s a total humiliation for them to limp back to their pride looking like an overused voodoo doll. Another animal lions absolutely dread is the honey badger. Don’t be fooled by his small size, the honey badger has a brutal method to overtake the male lion in a fight. The badger will simply castrate the lion in one ferocious bite since he’s the perfect size to go underneath his enemy. And well, we don’t need to explain the humiliation part from that.
We’ve heard the song of the mighty king lion sleeping in the jungle and they’re often called “The King of the Jungle.” Guess what? Lions don’t live in the jungle. Instead, they live in low grasslands, savannas and plains. We owe it to India-born Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book” for this mix up. It’s believed the confusion might have stemmed from the language barrier where tigers in the Indian Jungle are also referred to as lions in Hindu.
They can only run in a straight line
We like to imagine lions zigzagging their way through the grassland to nab that ripe zebra for dinner. But most of us would be surprised to learn that lions can’t run sideways or make swift turns if their prey should make an unexpected route on its escape. A lion will run in a straight line for a few seconds before “asserting” his/her body into another direction and then running straight again. This explains why lions try to secretively lurk and get as close to their prey before launching the attack.
A lion cannot move his eyes around (at least not well)
Yup. The only thing a lion can do with his eyes is blink. You’ll notice when watching them, if they need to look at something, they’ll turn their whole heads to be able to see. Also, you’ll be intrigued to know that their pupils are three times bigger than humans’.
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