The lion (Panthera leo) is the second largest member of the cat (Felidae) family and the largest carnivore in Africa. Powerful and deep-chested, the lion is also the mammal with the world’s highest body muscle percentage. In terms of lion weight, this all points towards the lion being one heavy cat. But is this true? Just how much does a lion weigh?
Lion Weight: Weighing Up Factors
The main two factors that determine lion weight differences are gender and subspecies. Lions are unique in that they are sexually dimorphic, meaning that males and females look visibly different. One clear difference is that male lions have their distinctive lustrous mane. However, they are also bigger than their female counterparts.
A lion’s subspecies is also indicative of size and therefore affects the average lion weight. There are two lion subspecies, namely Panthera leo leo and Panthera leo melanochaita.
How Much Does A Lion Weigh at Birth?
Most litters are made up of one to four cubs, ranging up to a maximum of six. At birth, the average lion weight is 1.5 kg. Cubs will continue to grow in size until they reach adulthood, stopping at around six years.
Average Lion Weight In Adult Lions
Once they reach adulthood, lion size and weight differences can be seen between the two subspecies and, within them, between males and females.
Average Lion Weight In African Lions
African lions are found in sub-Saharan Africa and are the biggest lions. Males can grow up to 3.3 metres long and females up to 2.7. And you can add a metre to both genders to account for their tails.
In terms of weight, male lions can reach anything from 150 to 250kg. Female lions can range from 110 to 180kg.
According to the Handbook of the Mammals of the World (Wilson and Mittermeier), the biggest male lion on record lived in Kenya and weighed in at an astonishing 270kg.
Asiatic lions are mostly found in the Gir National Park in Gujarat, India. There are several differences between Asiatic and African lions. For example, while African lions bear the iconic full mane, that of Asiatic lions is darker and sparser. Asiatic lions also tend to be the smaller of the lion types.
The longest ever recorded male Asiatic lion was 2.92m in length, but this includes the tail. This smaller size is reflected in their weight.
Male Asiatic lions range from 160 to 190kg and females 110 to 120kg.
Historic Lion Weight
Many lion species and subspecies are extinct. The prehistoric American Cave lion (Panthera leo atrox) was 25% larger than the modern lion and weighed around 350kg. It became extinct approximately 11,000 years ago.
Even larger was a lion carcass unearthed in Kenya in 2018. The exact size and weight of the Natodomeri lion is as yet unconfirmed, but it has been called gigantic and some reports say it would have had a shoulder height equal to humans.