Lion Cub (Panthera Leo)

Appearance
After a gestation period of 115 days, or maybe longer if the Lioness decides there is insufficient food available, up to six Lion Cubs are born. More usually, three. The cubs weigh just over 3.5lbs (1.6kg), are blind at birth and completely reliant on their mother. Spotted coats help hide them in dense woodland, the spots disappearing over time. After 2 - 3 weeks, the cubs eyes open and are blue but are still unsighted for a further week or so.
The Lioness moves her cubs every few days, to stop a build-up of smells that may attract predators.
At around 24 weeks old, cubs grow the black tip to their tails. Lions are the only cats to feature a black-tipped tail and no one knows what its purpose is. Perhaps to use as a signal to follow in long grass.

Resident
Lion Cubs live with their mothers in a group named a 'pride'. Because of the nature of the pride's hunting grounds, they live mostly in open savanna, occasionally around water or on the edge of woodlands.

Longevity
50% of Lion Cubs die within the first month of life. Teething weakens the cubs dramatically and others are predated. Occasionally, young Lionesses may even forget where they have left their youngsters and they simply starve to death. Or, young cubs may not be able to keep up with the pride. Only 20% of Lion Cubs reach their second birthday.

Predators
Lion Cubs are predated by Hyena and other predatory cats, especially Leopard. Martial Eagles, snakes and even male lions kill the cubs within the first four weeks of their lives.

Behaviour
Lion Cubs are kept from the pride until they are approximately 6 weeks old and can fend for themselves. The Lioness may decide to keep them away from other, boisterous youngsters until they are 3 months old and can fend for themselves at the milk bar.
Lion Cubs are very sociable and mix with other cubs, often playing seemingly rough games that teach them hunting skills for later in life.

Diet
Lion Cubs drink their mother's and Aunties milk until they are 2 - 3 months old, at which point they start to eat meat, despite still having their 'milk teeth'.
At 6 - 7 months old, the cubs are weaned and solely eat meat. By the time they are 12 months old they are taken on hunts with the pride. Despite which, they stay with their mother until they are approximately 2 years old, by which time they are consumate hunters.

Other Lion Cub Facts
Lion Cubs take milk not just from their own mother, but any other lactating female in the pride. Most mature females in a pride come into oestrus at the same time, give birth at the same time and the cubs are left in a crèche while mothers go out hunting.

Photographs
Images taken in Kenya's Nairobi National Park and Olara Orok Conservancy.

Categories & Keywords
Category:Animals
Subcategory:Big Cats
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:animal, big 5, big cat, big five, cat, kenya, lion cub, nairobi national park, olare orok conservancy, wildlife

Lion Cub ~ Hidden

A male Lion Cub, half hidden by foliage, hiding in bushes.

Lion Cub ~ Proud Mother

Lion Cub, looking straight into the camera, while its proud mother looks on.

Lion Cub ~ Getting Carried

A Lioness walking across a savanna in Kenya, carrying one cub, with two others followed.

Lion Cub ~ Hitching A Ride

Walking Lioness, carrying Lion Cub in mouth.

Lion Cub ~ Blue Eyes

A one month old Lion Cub close-up, still with blue in its eyes.

Lion Cub ~ Cheeky

Funny photograph of a Lion cub, flicking tail into sibling's eye.

Lion Cub ~ Cute

A cute-looking Lion Cub head portrait.  hiding in bushes, waiting for its mother.

Lion Cubs ~ By Water

Two Lion Cubs beside water, on rocks in Kenya.

Lion Cub ~ On Grass Mound

A Lion Cup, lying on top of a grass mound, surveying its surroundings.

Lion Cubs ~ Fussing Mum

Lion Cubs rubbing against Lionesses, showing affection.

Lion Cubs - A Telling Off

Two over-active Lion Cubs being told off by a snarling Lioness.

Lion Cubs ~ On Look-Out

Two Lion Cubs sitting on the front paws of an Aunty Lioness.

Lion Cub ~ Striding Out

Lion Cub walking fast across some savanna in Kenya.