Introduction
  Lion Basic Facts
  Lion Naming
  Lion Distribution
  Lion Behavior
  Lion Characteristics
  Lion Life Cycle
  Lion Mane
  Lion Penis
  Lion Population
  Lion Threats
  Lion Hunting
  Lion Mating
  Lion Baiting
  White Lion
  Lion vs Tiger
  Did You Know
 

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Lion Mating

Most lionesses will have reproduced by the time they are four years of age. Lions do not mate at any specific time of year, and the females are polyestrous. As with other cats, the male lion's penis has spines which point backwards. Upon withdrawal of the penis, the spines rake the walls of the female's vagina, which may cause ovulation. A lioness may mate with more than one male when she is in heat; during a mating bout, which could last several days, the couple copulates twenty to forty times a day and are likely to forgo eating. Lions reproduce very well in captivity.

During a mating bout, a couple may copulate twenty to forty times a day for several days; the ruff of the female is clearly visible. The average gestation period is around 110 days, the female giving birth to a litter of one to four cubs in a secluded den (which may be a thicket, a reed-bed, a cave or some other sheltered area) usually away from the rest of the pride. She will often hunt by herself whilst the cubs are still helpless, so as to stay close to the thicket or den where the cubs are kept. Usually, the mother does not integrate herself and her cubs back into the pride until the cubs are six to eight weeks old. However, sometimes this introduction to pride life occurs earlier, particularly if other lionesses have given birth at about the same time.

For instance, lionesses in a pride often synchronize their reproductive cycles so that they cooperate in the raising and suckling of the young (once the cubs are past the initial stage of isolation with their mother), who suckle indiscriminately from any or all of the nursing females in the pride. In addition to greater protection, the synchronization of births also has an advantage in that the cubs end up being roughly the same size, and thus have an equal chance of survival. If one lioness gives birth to a litter of cubs a couple of months after another lioness, for instance, then the younger cubs, being much smaller than their older brethren, are usually dominated by larger cubs at mealtimes consequently, death by starvation is more common amongst the younger cubs.

 
 

 


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