Have you ever wondered why lions lick their prey? It’s a question that many of us have probably asked ourselves after witnessing these magnificent creatures in action. But before we get into that, let’s take a closer look at the lion’s tongue. Did you know that a lion’s tongue is not only long and muscular but also covered in small, sharp papillae?
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The Lions Tongue
It’s not just the king of the jungle, but also among all the animals in the cat family. The length of a lion’s tongue is covered in minuscule quills called papillae. These papillae face backwards, which allows the lion to catch and hold onto prey tightly. But don’t be fooled by its brush-like feel on a human’s skin. If a lot of pressure is applied, the skin can be ripped off!
Why Do Lions Lick Their Prey?
Life in the wild is vastly different from life in the civilized world. While we have the privilege of simply stepping into our backyard and having dinner served, lions have to put in the work to chase down their meal. No hospitals, no fires, and no doctors exist in the wild, leaving all the odds stacked against the king of the jungle. However, all it takes is a simple flick of the tongue to change the game. Lions may not have access to modern amenities, but they do have the ability to lick their way to a proper meal.
The following are reasons why lions lick their prey.
Lions lick their prey to clean off dirt and remove fur
Despite their lack of certain advantages that humans possess, namely, grilling machines and the ability to stand on twos, lions have developed hygienic measures to ensure their food is free of dirt and hair. In the wild, where medical treatment is nonexistent, it is important for the lions to keep themselves and their food clean to avoid getting sick. This means that while they don’t have access to the same tools as humans, they have found ways to work with what they have. So, while a brush-like tongue may not seem beneficial for humans, lions have found it to be an essential tool for keeping themselves and their food clean in the wild.
Lions lick their prey to scrape meat attached to the bone of their prey
Being a lion has its downsides, one of which is the inability to use fingers. While humans can easily pick apart bones with slender fingers, lions are limited to their paws. They are adapted for walking and not gripping small things, making it challenging to access every last piece of flesh. However, in the wild, every pound of flesh counts, so lions have developed a unique solution – their brush-like tongues. By applying pressure to the bones and using their rough tongues to lick away any remaining flesh, they can ensure that no food goes to waste. Whether they are greedy or have excellent table manners, every lion knows the importance of making the most of every meal.
Why do lions lick their prey before killing it?
They take the time to ensure that their meal is clean and free from any unwanted dirt or loose hairs by giving it a good lick.
Why do lions lick so much?
Among lions, males are actually the most likely to share a tender moment in the form of head rubbing. Females, on the other hand, take a more maternal approach and often lick both males and other females, especially cubs.
Why do lions eat the balls first?
While it’s true that lionesses are typically the ones to initiate mating with vocalizations, the idea that they bite the males’ testicles to get their attention is simply a myth. Although lions are known for their aggressive behaviour, biting a male on the balls would be both painful and counterproductive.
Why do lions lick their fur?
It turns out that lions also use their tongues, which are covered in small, rough papillae, to untangle the thick mats of hair on their bodies. This comes in handy when grooming their luscious manes or getting rid of burrs and debris that can get stuck in their fur. But that’s not all – a lion’s saliva also plays an important role in keeping them cool in the hot African weather.
Lions have no doubt captured our imagination with their fearless and majestic presence, and their hunting habits are no exception. One curious habit that has puzzled many is why they lick their prey. Research suggests that it may be a sign of their powerful social and communicative behaviour.
By licking the fur, skin, and wounds of their prey, they leave their scent, signalling to other lions that this territory is theirs. This behaviour also helps to remove any potential bacteria from the wounds, reducing the risks of infection. Furthermore, licking helps to cool down the predator’s body temperature, especially if they have been exerting themselves during the hunt.
Growing up enjoying the beauty of my village, a good passion for nature developed in me from childhood. Following my passion for the natural world, I have chosen zoology for my graduation, during my undergraduate degree, I participated in many nature trails, bird watching, rescues, training for wildlife conservation, workshop, and seminars on biodiversity. I have a keen interest in invertebrate biology, herpetology, and ornithology. Primary interests include studies on taxonomy, ecology, habitat and behavior.