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All you need to know about lion cubs
Female lions, lionesses, are able to give birth to cubs all year round, usually from the age of about three or four years old. Pregnancy lasts for around 110 to 120 days.
Eventually, when it is time to give birth, lionesses leave their family pride to find a private den in the shelter of bushes, or even a cave.
This is where the cubs will be born and stay until they are old enough to join the pride.
When they are first born, cubs are very small. They have their eyes closed and don’t open them until they are two to three weeks old. Even then, they can’t see properly for another week or so, so need lots of care and attention from Mum.
As they are unable to defend themselves, cubs are vulnerable to attack from large birds and snakes and even male lions.
Lionesses usually have around three cubs, but can have as many as six, so they are kept very busy making sure they are all safe.
A lioness will keep her cubs hidden from other lions for around six weeks until they are old enough to follow the pride. Any younger and they wouldn’t be able to keep up and could get lost.
If there are older cubs already in the pride, the mother must wait until her young are around three months old before introducing them.
Older cubs often bully the smaller cubs and steal their milk, so they need to be big enough to stand up for themselves.
Lioness: Lion Cub protector
Lionesses in a pride often have cubs around the same time as each other. They look after them in a group, known as a ‘crèche’. This helps to keep them safe from predators – meat-eating animals, such as other lions and tigers – and also large animals such as elephant and buffalo.
Lionesses can also control when they have cubs. If there is not enough food around to feed a hungry mouth, a lioness will wait until there is before giving birth.
Young cubs drink milk from their mother’s teats. It is good for them and helps them to grow quickly. At around two to three months, they begin to eat meat as well with their small milk teeth.
These are their ‘baby teeth’. Like humans, lions are born without teeth. They grow small ones when still very young, which are then replaced with adult teeth as they get older.
At six to seven months old, cubs stop drinking milk altogether. By the time they have reached two years of age, they don’t need their mothers to look after them anymore.
Cubs are full of life. It is important that they play with other youngsters and adults members of the pride, as this helps them to bond. When playing, a cub can often be seen leaping on another’s back and biting their neck.
Although this looks rough, to them it is just fun. Although they don’t realise though, this is all-important practice for when they grow up and begin to hunt large animals, like buffalo or zebra.
The life cycle of a lion cub
|Birth weight||1, 5 kilograms|
|Eyes open||at 3 to 11 days|
|Weaning||Starts at 10 weeks; completed at 10 months|
|Hunting skills achieved||At 2 years old|
|Fully grown||3-4 years|
Facts about African Lion Cubs
Are lion cubs dangerous?
No. Lions are not domesticated animals, even if you raise them in a domestic environment, they are still wild and will act on their wild instincts. …
It is a dangerous animal that can kill you in a split second, meaning to or not.
Do lions eat their cubs?
Wild male lions will also typically chase off any male cubs when they grow up to ensure they are alone with the pride lionesses. Sometimes the lions will kill cubs – usually when they take over new territory from another pride – to stake their claim on the females.
What is the baby of a lion called?
Why do female lions leave the pride to give birth?
The researchers said female lions, which also hunt together, avoid another behaviour practised by females of some other species: they do not kill the offspring of other females. Female lions leave the pride to give birth to their young and do not return until the cubs are several weeks old.
How many months is a lion pregnant?
The gestation period is about 108 days, and the litter size varies from one to six cubs, two to four being usual.
Are lion cubs born dead?
No, clubs are born alive but Cubs can die from starvation and abandonment, and predation by leopards, hyenas and wild dogs. Up to 80% of lion cubs will die before the age of two. Both male and female lions may be ousted from prides to become nomads, although most females usually remain with their birth pride.
Why are lion cubs so cute?
During evolution, cute cubs had a better chance of growing up and passing on their genes, because their older relatives cared better for them. This also shows that the taste of lions regarding cuteness is very similar to ours.