Home Animals Do Lions Eat Fish? The Truth About Lions and Fish

Do Lions Eat Fish? The Truth About Lions and Fish


When we think of lions, we are filled with images of their ferocious attacks on other animals. They are truly the kings of the jungle. But have you ever wondered if lions eat fish? While it might seem unlikely, they do! Lions eat all sorts of meat, including fish. However, they don’t commonly hunt fish because they don’t provide enough sustenance for the carnivorous felines. Additionally, lions are not particularly skilled swimmers, so they tend to only consume fish that have already died.  

Do Lions Eat Fish

Do lions eat fish in the wild?

Lions, as hypercarnivores, have a strong preference for meat as their primary food source, accounting for over 70% of their dietary intake. In their natural habitat, lions primarily target large land animals such as antelopes, zebras, and wildebeest, among others.

When we envision lions, we typically picture them in arid savannas, and grasslands, surrounded by dust and heat. The association of lions with water and swimming is not commonly made, especially in terms of hunting.

In regard to aquatic creatures, lions only engage in hunting them on rare occasions. For instance, when encountering a crocodile, lions typically adopt a strategy of concealment and patiently wait for the crocodile to emerge from the water. It is only once the crocodile is on land that lions would initiate an attack.

In the wild, lions may consume dead fish if encountered, but they do not actively pursue fish as prey by entering the water. Even if lions possessed exceptional swimming abilities, it is highly unlikely for them to prioritize fish as a food source, considering the abundance of larger animals available. Fish are relatively small in size for the mighty felines and do not provide a substantial meat source to meet their dietary requirements.

Do lions eat fish in captivity?

In some zoos, lions may be occasionally fed fish as part of efforts by zookeepers to introduce dietary variety. However, the feeding practices vary depending on the specific zoo and its regulations. In certain zoos, animals are fed with food that closely resembles their natural diet in the wild.

Nevertheless, fish does not serve as the primary food source for captive lions, and it is given to them on occasion rather than as a regular meal. Due to the unfeasibility of providing lions with their wild prey such as zebras and antelopes, beef is commonly substituted instead.

Zoo nutritionists strive to replicate the lion’s diet from their natural habitat, aiming to develop substitutes that possess similar mineral and vitamin content. The use of live prey is deemed unethical in many zoos and is often prohibited in various regions. Therefore, alternative methods of enrichment are employed by zookeepers when it comes to the lions’ food.

For instance, farm animals that have died and are deemed unsuitable for human consumption are often sent to zoos as a means of providing food for the lions. This ensures that these animals are put to good use and contribute to the nutritional needs of the zoo’s inhabitants.

Do lions hate water?

No, lions do not hate water, but they are not fans of water either. However, they do indeed hate swimming, and they tend to avoid water since they are not very good at it. And they will only enter when it is necessary.

For example, when it is super hot, and they have to cool off, or when they are chasing prey, and they need to cross the river.

As opposed to their cousin’s tigers, who are excellent swimmers and enjoy being and hunting in the water.

Despite popular belief, lions do not necessarily hate water. However, they definitely do not see it as their favorite environment either. Swimming, in particular, is not their forte, and they tend to avoid it wherever possible. Unless absolutely necessary, lions will typically only venture into the water when they need to cool down on a scorching day or when chasing prey across a river. 

On the other hand, their counterparts, the tigers, have a love for water and are skilled swimmers. Unlike lions, tigers can often be seen playing in the water or hunting their prey, showing just how different these big cats can be in their behavior.

How much do lions eat per day?

On average, adult male lions can reach a length of up to 8.2 feet and weigh around 420 pounds. Females, although slightly smaller, typically weigh around 280 pounds and measure approximately 6 feet in length. Among the big cat species, lions rank as the second-largest, surpassed only by tigers.

A healthy adult lion is capable of surviving without food for about 14 days. However, there have been recorded instances where lions have endured up to a month without food (source). Following a prolonged period of fasting, lions have the capacity to consume massive quantities of food in a single day. In fact, a fully grown lion can devour up to 110 pounds of meat in a single sitting, which accounts for nearly a quarter of its total body weight. However, this voracious appetite is typically observed when the lion has been deprived of food for more than a week.

In the wild, lions generally feed every three to five days, consuming approximately 10 to 20 pounds of meat per day. In captivity, zookeepers make concerted efforts to replicate the lions’ natural feeding routine and schedule. This means that lions in captivity are typically fed every few days to mimic their usual eating patterns.

Final Words

Lions are known for their love of meat, particularly hoofed mammals, which provide a sizable portion of their diet. Despite this, lions are not exclusive carnivores and will eat other foods if they are readily available.

Fish is one such food that lions will consume, although it is not their preferred meal. Interestingly, lions are more skilled at hunting on land than in water, which is another reason why fish is not a go-to food for these majestic predators. However, this does not mean that lions dislike fish. Rather, they will only eat it if it is easily accessible, proving that even the king of the jungle is not above being opportunistic when it comes to their food choices.


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A motivated philosophy graduate and student of wildlife conservation with a deep interest in human-wildlife relationships, including wildlife communication, environmental education, and conservation anthropology. Offers strong interpersonal, research, writing, and creativity skills.

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A motivated philosophy graduate and student of wildlife conservation with a deep interest in human-wildlife relationships, including wildlife communication, environmental education, and conservation anthropology. Offers strong interpersonal, research, writing, and creativity skills.


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