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Lion vs. Leopard: Main Differences & Who Would Win a Fight?

Although these two animals belong to the same cat family (scientifically referred to as species of the Felidae family), they are arch rivals. A close meeting of the two is guaranteed to result in a bloody fight, with the possible outcome being fatal.

The Main Differences Between a Lion and a Leopard

This article will compare and contrast the lion vs. leopard by highlighting scientifically proven facts to address all the questions related to these two cat species.

Lion vs. Leopard: Weight

As expected, lions generally weigh more than leopards. The average weight of a mature lion is 650-700 lbs (295-318 kg) compared to an adult leopard which is approximately 205-220 lbs (95-100 kg).

The lion is also more enormous in terms of its overall size than a leopard. Male lions have an average body length of 5-8 ft, while females are 4-7 ft. The overall height of lions (both genders) is 3-4 ft.
On the other hand, leopards (both genders) have an average body length of 4-7 ft. Their height is approximately 2-3 ft.

Also read: What Eats Lions? Their Top 5 Natural Enemies

Lion face

Also read: Hyena vs. Leopad: Their Key Differences & Who Would Win a Fight?

Lion vs. Leopard: Speed

When comparing the speed of these two animals, there are two factors to consider; the distance covered and the acceleration rate.

Distance Covered

Surprisingly, lions are faster than leopards when covering a short distance. The King of the Jungle can reach a maximum speed of 35-50mph (56-80km/h) compared to the leopard’s pace of 32-45mph (52-72km/h).

However, when covering a longer distance of more than 500 meters, the lions’ heavy weight makes them lower their speed due to exhaustion.

The leopard can maintain its speed over longer distances. This factor helps them escape the wrath of lions when attacked since they can outrun them over long distances.

Acceleration Rate

Lions have a higher acceleration rate than their counterparts. They can attain a maximum speed of 50 mph(80 km/h) in short bursts of less than 2 minutes compared to the leopards’ 45mph (70 km/h) in the same time frame.

The lions’ front limbs, which are longer than their hind legs, make them excellent sprinters. However, the leopards’ balanced body length limits their sprinting capability.

Lion vs. Leopard: Strength

As we have already established, lions weigh more than leopards, with most of their body mass being muscles. Therefore, lions are stronger than leopards.

Apart from their strength, another vital factor that makes the lion stronger and the most feared species by all animals, including the leopards, is their strength in numbers!

Lions are social animals; hence they form a family unit called a ‘Pride.’ The pride mainly consists of 2-3 male lions, 4-10 females and their offspring. It’s essential to note that the strongest male (the alpha) acts as the overall leader of the pride.

Also read: Leopard vs. Cougar: Differences and Who Would Win in a Fight?

Pride of lions

On the other hand, leopards are solitary animals. It means they spend most of their time alone, apart from females with cubs. This characteristic makes them more vulnerable to attacks and assaults.

The strongly built lions usually attack the lonely leopards in huge numbers. Unable to fight back, the leopard’s only option is to flee for safety.

Lion vs. Leopard: Who Would Win in a Fight?

In a one-on-one combat, the King of the jungle usually wins the fight. However, leopards always try to avoid such occurrences by running away whenever they spot a lion.

Despite the lion emerging as the winner, it will indeed sustain serious injuries; since the rival is a ferocious beast with sharp claws and teeth guaranteed to cause maximum damage.

Also read: What Do Lions Eat? All About The Lion’s Diet

Why Do Leopards Hate Lions?

The main reason for this rivalry is that both cats share the same habitat; hence they have to compete for the same resources (in terms of prey and water sources).

Another significant reason they hate their cat cousins is that lions tend to kill and eat leopards, especially their cubs, whenever food is scarce.

Leopard in tree

Frequently Asked Questions

How Strong is a Leopard?

The leopard’s long sharp claws, razor-sharp canine teeth, ferocious character, strong limbs and powerful jaws make it the fifth strongest cat.

However, they are the strongest big cats in terms of pound-for-pound strength. It’s because no other species has the leopards’ ability to drag their prey’s carcass (usually double its body weight) to the top of a tree.

Can a Leopard Kill a Lion?

Although it’s rare, there are few instances where a leopard has managed to kill a lion.
Such instances include; when the lion is old or seriously injured, abandoned lion cubs, or a mother leopard defending her cubs from a single and less powerful lion.

How Fast Can a Lion Run?

In shorter distances of less than 500 meters, a lion can reach a maximum speed of 50 mph (80 km/h), but the farther the distance covered, the less the pace, with the top speed being 30-35 mph (48-56 km/h).

How Fast Can a Leopard Run?

A leopard can run as fast as 32-45 mph (52-72 km/h).

Are Lionesses Stronger Than Lions?

Unless the male is sick, injured or very young, the males are generally much stronger than lionesses.

Final Thoughts

It’s evident that the lion truly deserves the title ‘King of the Jungle’ since it has all the features and characteristics to justify this definition.

Learn More About Lions

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