Lion vs. Tiger
Lion vs. Tiger is always a fascinating encounter, as it captures the attention of all big cat lovers. Lions and Tigers are two arch rivals among the big cats. Both are highly territorial and will never tolerate each other in a face off. Luckily; in the wild both are separated by a distance of thousands of kilometers. Lion is crowned as a king of African Savannah while tiger holds its reign across the dense forests of Asia and Russia. Both animals are known to mankind for thousands of years but today they are fighting for their own survival. Even worse still little is known and discovered about these magnificent big cats.
Lion vs Tiger is a battle of bigcat giants. Both of them are very competitive one another for an encounter.
Even a profound and in depth comparison of lion vs tiger rivalry hasn’t been compiled in a meaningful manner for the big cat lovers. Perhaps; it is the right time now to make an in depth comparison and draw some conclusions out of it. Some perspectives about lion vs tiger have already been already vindicated while others may end up on a never ending debate. So let’s bring on the contest of these two cats (Lion vs Tiger) and see which one of them holds an advantage based upon their physical and mental characteristics; plus some historical perspectives.
Note: Within comparison pictures of this article, there is a male lion and a female tiger. Practically; it is very difficult to have male lion and a male tiger together because of their aggressive nature.f-Share Tweet Linkedin Google+ Pinterest VK
When it comes to the comparison of weights in between lions and tigers; lions only come second best to tigers. According to the weighing statistics; the biggest lion breed usually weighs around 500 pounds; whereas; the biggest tiger breed (The Siberian Tiger) weighs well over 600 pounds. According to many researchers; it is very rare for lions to even reach a weight of 500 pounds in the wild. The biggest lion ever in the wild was around 690 pounds which was shot in Kruger National Park in 1936.
Siberian tigers outweigh African Lions by 600 to 500 pounds respectively!
On the other hand; the biggest tiger ever recorded in the wild was more than 846 pounds. This tiger was shot at Russian Federation’s Sikhote Alin Gory Mountains in 1950. Normally it is very common for the male Siberian Tigers to weigh well over 600 pounds. Even the female Siberian Tigers sometimes weigh as equal as the lions i.e., weighing well over 450 pounds. This was typically observed at an animal sanctuary in Slovakia; where female Siberian Tigresses looked bigger in size as compared to a male lion. Therefore; weight advantage goes to the Siberian Tiger.
Weight Comparison = Advantage Tiger
Measurements of the body lengths of lions and tigers also put tigers ahead of the lions. According to the observers; normal length for a tiger is around 9 to 10 feet long. On the other hand; the normal length for a lion is around 8 to 9 feet long. Therefore; on average the tiger clearly has an advantage of a foot or so over the lion in this regard. The longest recorded length for a tiger is around 13 feet long, whereas; the longest recorded length for a lion is around 11 feet long.
Tigers are ahead of lions in terms of their body lengths. A longer body length possibly gives them more muscle power as compared a lion.
It is believed that this long length of the tiger allows him to gain more body weight than a lion. This long length of a tiger also means more muscle power for a tiger as compared to the lion. Please do keep in mind that these lengths have been measured from the tip of their noses to the tip of their tails. Among the total lengths of lions and tigers; the tail comprises of 20 to 25% of the overall length.
Length Comparison = Advantage Tiger
Apart from body lengths; lions and tigers also have reasonable heights which make them a powerful beast. The height of the big cat can easily be evaluated; if the big cat sits on its hind legs and stands on its front two paws. The height is measured from the paws to the tip of its ears. Some observers also measure shoulder lengths as well.
A height comparison in between lions vs tigers reveals that a Siberian Tiger is slightly taller than an African Lion.
Tigers definitely have an advantage in this regard; as their heights are longer than that of the lions. The average height for a male Siberian tiger can be as long as 5.3 to 5.5 feet while for a lion it is usually around 5 feet to 5.2 feet. However; at shoulders a Siberian Tiger’s height is nearly 4 feet long, while an African lion is marginally smaller than 4 feet.
Height Comparison = Advantage Tiger
When it comes to speed and sprinting; the tigers again have an edge over the lions. In speed measurements; female tigresses and lionesses are faster than lions and tiger. The average sprinting speed of a male lion is around 35 miles per hour. On the other; the average sprinting speed of a male tiger is recorded to be around 40 miles per hour. Lionesses are even faster than the male tigers. Their sprinting speed is around 43 to 45 miles per hour. But the fastest ones are the tigresses; who have a sprinting speed of nearly 50 miles per hour.
A tiger beats a lion when it comes to the speed. Bodies of male lions are not built for speed and their large mane slows them down.
It should be noted that the elongated body of the tigers; helps them to gain momentum while speeding. Male lions have a huge mane which restricts them from running at high pace. Male tigers, lionesses and tigresses all have perfect aerodynamics to sprint faster than a male lion. These sprints are measured over short distance i.e., 25 to 50 meters at maximum. And they are measured at Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, USA. National Geographic has mentioned the speed of the tigers to be around 80 kilometers per hour and rated them faster than lions.
Speed Comparison = Advantage Tiger
So; who has got a bigger skull; lion or a tiger? In this comparison; a lion definitely has an advantage over a tiger; as its skull measurement is bigger than that of a tiger. Bigger skull means bigger impact and in normal cases a bigger bite force as well; especially for the carnivores.
An African Lion is bigger than a Siberian Tiger when it comes to the skull measurements.
Normally; a lion has an average skull size of 380 millimeters; whereas; a tiger has an average skull size of around 351 millimeters. A lion has a concave skull; whereas; a tiger has a convex skull. Additionally; lion does have a mane near his skull and neck; which further makes his head bigger than that of a tiger. So definitely; the edge goes to lion; when it comes to the skull measurements and its size.
Skull Comparison = Advantage Lion
A bigger skull for a lion may also mean a bigger bite force; but is bigger skull a good indicator of a bigger bite. Let’s take an example of Hyena; it has a smaller skull than a lion but its bite force is 3 times stronger than either a lion or a tiger. Basically; it is the jaw muscles that generate the bite force for the big cats.
A tiger has a powerful bite force as compared to a lion.
According to National Geographic’s documentary; a lion and a tiger can both generate a bite force of well over 400 pounds on average. But in a lion vs tiger contest which animal has a bigger bite force? According to Christiansen and Wroe, a tiger has a bigger bite force than a lion. Their research found that; a lion has a bite force of 357 pounds while a Siberian Tiger has a bite force of about 392 pounds.
Bite Force Comparison = Advantage Tiger
Canine teeth are common in carnivore mammals which also include lions and tigers. Bigger canine teeth also mean bigger impact on the prey. Among the big cats clouded leopards are believed to have longest canine teeth. However; in a comparison between a tiger and a lion; a tiger has longer canine teeth than a lion. The lengths of canine teeth of tiger are about 78 millimeters while a lion has canine teeth of about 70 millimeters.
A tiger also has longer canine teeth as compared to its rival big cat i.e., a lion.
This means that any canine related impact and damage from the tiger will be marginally bigger than that of a lion. The tiger has a double advantage in this regard as it not only has powerful bite force but also longer canine teeth which help big cats in bringing down their preys.
Canine Teeth = Advantage Tiger
When it comes to intelligence, a tiger again topples a lion. Intelligence level among species is measured on the basis of cranial volume. Therefore; in a comparison of lion vs. tiger, a tiger is definitely the winner as it has an ability to outwit a lion. Scientific data collection have concluded that the cranial volume for a tiger is around 0.92 cubic centimeters, whereas; the cranial volume for a lion is around 0.75 cubic centimeters. Moreover; among all the big cats a tiger most probably has the biggest cranial volume.
A tiger is more brainy than a lion because it has a larger cranial volume as compared to a lion.
This further means that tigers should be considered as intelligent of all the other big cats as well. Therefore; in lion vs tiger comparison; the advantage goes to tiger when it comes to intelligence. This is the key reason that tigers throughout the world has adapted to so many climates, prey options and living condition and that too as a solitary hunter.
Intelligence (Cranial Volume) = Advantage Tiger
There is nothing closer to a lion when it comes to its massive roar. Even a tiger who is bigger than a lion can't roar as loud as lion. According to the statistics, a lion’s roar can be heard 5 miles away, whereas; a tiger’s roar can only be heard at just 2 to 3 miles away. Lions definitely have a huge edge over tigers when it comes to the roaring power.
A lion has a louder roar than a tiger. A lion’s roar spreads across a diameter of 5 miles, while a tiger’s role around 3 miles maximum.
According to National Geographic; hearing a roar of a lion is just like having a passenger jet at just an altitude of 150 feet above your head. Tigers just simply lag behind lions, when it comes to the roaring power. A roar helps a lion to secure its territory and scare off any rival males away. Therefore; there is a possibility that a lion may scare off a tiger because of its loud roar.
Roaring Comparison = Advantage Lion
A tiger is an expert swimmer as compared to a lion. Lions do not like water and try they try to avoid any swimming adventures. Even though lions do swim but they rarely do it under extreme conditions. Otherwise; lions prefer not to swim. Lions also avoid hunting within water as well. Only Swamp Lion pride in Africa is known to have adaptability with water. Tigers on the other hand love to swim in deep waters and they are fully adept at it.
Tigers are excellent swimmers and they are capable of doing hunting in water. Lions do swim but they do not like any swimming adventure.
Tigers are even known to swim couple of miles in rivers for their hunting. Moreover; they are also known to attack fishermen by a surprise pouncing into the boat. Therefore; the advantage goes to tiger when it comes to swimming and any water related encounters.
Swimming Comparison = Advantage Tiger
When it comes to hunting; lions hunt in groups. Usually; lionesses hunt for the whole pride and male lions only make a rare contribution. However; nomadic male lions are specialized hunters and they grow up young while hunting on their own. But still during their nomadic period; they form a coalition of 2 to 3 male lions for hunting. Tigers on the other hand are solitary hunters and they hunt alone throughout their lives after leaving their mothers.
Lions are group hunters, therefore; they are dependent on one another for the hunting. Tigers on the other hand are skilful solitary hunters.
This makes them skillful hunters. Tigers are known to single handedly kill gaurs and rhinos on their own; while a lion takes help of the group to bring down the large preys. Therefore; lions take advantage of hunting by forming coalitions and groups while tigers are skilfull solitary hunters.
Individual Hunting Comparison = Advantage Tiger
Group Hunting Comparison = Advantage Loin
Both lions and tigers have powerful paws and claws. Paws are considered as the main armor in hunting for both of these cats. But whose paws are stronger in between these two big cats? Tigers certainly have edge over lions regarding their paw sizes as well.
A tiger has a bigger claw and paws as compared to a lion. This also means that a tiger is capable of inserting powerful blows to a lion in a fight.
According to one observation; a lion’s claws were about 12.9 cm wide while a tiger’s claws were 16.5 cm wider. This also means that tiger paws will be heavier and will carry more power than that of a lion. Therefore; in the comparison of claws; a tiger is victorious as compared to lion, when it comes to the sizes of their claws.
Paw Size Comparison = Advantage Tiger
Tigers again have an advantage over lion, when it comes to paw and claw striking. Not only the tigers use their paws and claws more often in their fights but they are experts at it to topple their opponents. Tigers are known to standing on their back feet and start striking multiple times like a boxer in a ring.
When it comes to paw and claw striking; a tiger acts like a boxer and definitely holds a huge advantage in its encounter with a lion.
Lions on the other hand also use paws in the fighting, but not with that much of a skill as compared to that of a tiger. Usually; a lion uses only its one paw in a fight. Tiger leads lion in claw striking by 3 to 1. This means that a lion will only manage to trigger a single claw strike while a tiger will strike three claws in a single instance. Faster claw striking also means more damage to the opponent and less strikes back on the face. Therefore; tiger own lions in terms of its paw and claw striking ability.
Paw and claw Striking = Advantage Tiger
Protection gear holds a key worth for the fighters in any encounter and so does within the lion vs tiger fight. In the cat family lions have a huge mane around their neck and head which not only makes them look bigger but it also protects their neck as well. Tigers do not have such possession of protection gear around their necks. Some male tigers do have a puff of hair around their neck but that will be too small when compared with lion’s mane. Therefore; in a lion vs tiger encounter a lion holds an advantage of protection gear of mane around its neck as compared to the tiger.
A lion has a protection gear in the form of mane around its neck, whereas; a tiger doesn’t possess such covering. Therefore; a big advantage definitely goes to lion in an encounter.
However; according to the findings of some researchers a mane can be protection gear for a lion but it reduces the agility level of the lions as well. In another instance in Turkey a tiger killed a male lion when its claw stuck into the mane of the lion. Therefore; manes can serve as a drawback for the lions but they still offer some sort of protection to the lions as compared to the tigers.
Defensive Gear = Advantage Lion
In any fight, agility holds a key for the success and agility can be a decisive factor in between a lion vs. tiger encounter. So who is more agile? A lion or a tiger? When it comes to agility; the experts usually favor a tiger; because it is more agile and acrobatic as compared to a lion. A tiger has much better reflexes as compared to a lion.
In a lion vs tiger encounter; a tiger is more agile and more acrobatic as compared to a lion. The agility of a tiger can prove out to be a decisive factor for its win against a lion in a fight.
Paws and claws striking capability of tiger is also very agile as well. Maneuverability of a tiger is also much better than a lion. Lions are generally not that much agile as compared to tigers. Some experts believe that their big mane hinders their agility level during fighting while other experts typically regard lions as lazy big cats.
Agility Level = Advantage Tiger
When it comes to attack on humans; or man-eater big cats, tigers have again furious record than a lion. Man-eater is not a skill but it does carry a certain degree of psychological impact on the humans. According to the estimates from India, a Bengal Tiger named as, Champawat killed 436 people in India. However; according to National Geographic Wild Siberian Tigers have never been known to attack humans. On the other hand; there has been record of a lion pride eating 2 people per week for 15 years. The famous Tsavo lions; have also killed 40 people, during the 20th century as well.
Tigers hold a more furious reputation of man-eaters as compared to the lions. Apart from Siberian Tigers; both African Lions and Bengal Tigers are known to attack and even feed on humans.
Similarly; a single lion has also killed 40 local individuals in 1943. So in terms of man-eaters big cats, a tiger turns out to be more furious than the lions. Since tiger live in dense jungles; therefore, identifying and tracking a tiger is more difficult than a lion, which live on plain lands.
Man-eaters = Advantage Tiger
Lions do have a population advantage over tigers. There are around 20,000 lions in the wild today, whereas; there are only 3500 tigers in the wild as of 2017. It is believed that during British colonial era of sub-continent (India and Pakistan), tiger hunting was on the rise which resulted in significant loss within tiger population. Tigers are solitary animals and raising their cubs as solitary animals is a huge challenge.
There are 20,000 lions in the wild as compared to 3,500 tigers.
Lions live in groups; this group living helps them to protect their cubs in a much better way than tigers, who live as solitary animals. This is the key reason that population of the lions are striving in Africa; while the tigers are on endangered list. Therefore; the population advantage definitely goes to lion in this regard.
Population = Advantage lion
According to the circus experts; lions are at their best when it comes to bluffing. This also means that lions play their card of scaring their opponent before making a fight. National Geographic showed in one of their documentary that a lion named as Maran successfully defended its territory against 3 nomadic lions by just roaring and scaring them off.
Lions are big bluffers; when it comes to encounters with their rivals. Their main aim is to scare off their rivals and settle the dispute without being physical.
Circus experts believe that even if a lion fights, it fights halfheartedly. Even in captivity when male lions and tigers are kept together; lions tend to prove their dominance over the tigers. Tigers do seem to be submissive to lions in captivity.
So in any fight of a lion vs tiger, a lion has an advantage by playing the bluff of scaring off his opponents. But the question is; what role and advantage bluffing can play for lion if its opponent is totally willing to fight till the end? However; we still give a bluffing advantage to lion in a lion vs tiger encounter.
Fighting Account (Lions are Bluffer) = Advantage Lion
Today there are more lions and tigers in captivity than in the wild. About more than 50% of these lions and tigers are in USA and majority of them are in circuses. Circus individuals work both with lions and tigers.
According to Edmund Sherwood tigers are more skillful in fighting as compared to a lion. He even believed that a single tiger will be enough to fight against three male lions.
According to one circus expert, named as Robert Edmund Sherwood, if you put three lions and one tiger in a cage, the tiger will come out battered and disfigured but still victorious while all the three lions will stay behind the bars as dead. Sherwood; believed that lions mostly play bluff during the fight and they are cowards from inside. On the other hand; tigers are skillful heavyweight fighters he has witnessed within the big cats.
Fighting Account (One Tiger vs Three Lions) = Advantage Tiger
During the Mughal era at Subcontinent (Present Day India and Pakistan), a staged lion vs tiger encounter was a royal spectacle. In order to entertain their guests the Mughals famously used to arrange lion and tiger encounters.
In a lion vs tiger encounter during the Mughal era at Subcontinent, tiger was always victorious against lions.
Evenly matched lion and tiger were picked for the fight and according to Roberts and Rand, tigers were always victorious. This account truly shows that lion is a no match for a tiger in a face to face encounter. Tiger at Mughal’s era was considered as the true king of the beasts. Tiger again has gained an advantage over lion from this account of Mughal’s era as well.
Fighting Account (Mughal’s Era) = Advantage Tiger
Lion and tiger fights were also popular during the time of Roman Empire as well. This lion vs tiger fight was part of entertainment for the people of the whole Roman Empire. The fight used to take place at the famous colosseum of Rome. Even hungry tigers and lions were used to unleash over the gladiators fighting in the arena.
According to the literature from the Roman Empire about a lion vs tiger encounter, a tiger was always a winner against lion.
According to the writers; tigers always used to defeat lions in that arena. Moreover; it was very rare for a lion to kill a tiger during those fights. So the Roman Empire’s account also gives an advantage to the tiger in its fight with a lion.
Fighting Account (Roman Empire) = Advantage Tiger
Lion vs tiger fights were also popular among the English Kings as well. In order to entertain their guests; an evenly matched pair of a male lion and a male tiger was selected for the encounter. People used to call it an ultimate result to crown the king of the beasts. This event was also used to settle the king of the beasts’ disputes as well.
Even the English literature concludes that in a battle of beasts (Lions vs Tigers), tigers are the ultimate winners.
Yet again tigers always used to win the crown within those fights against lions. Therefore; from all ancient fight accounts from Mughal Empire, Roman Empire and English Kings, tigers always had an upper hand over the lions in most of the encounters.
Fighting Account (English Kings) = Advantage Tiger
Most recently a rare lion vs tiger fight took place at one of the zoos in Turkey.
Recently; a few years ago a tiger in a Turkish Zoo killed a male lion by swiping a few claws around the throat of the lion.
In that fight a tiger’s paw got stuck in the lion’s mane, and when the tiger further thrust his claw inside lion’s mane, the tiger cut off his jugular vein. This incident specifically proved that lion can be at a disadvantage with the presence of its mane. But the question is “Were these two big cats evenly matched at the zoo?”
Fighting Account (Turkish Zoo) = Advantage Tiger
There are many accounts in which a lion has killed a tiger as well but in most of the cases the tigers were very young, female tigers, old tigers or they were trapped in some location. Other than that a fully mature tiger has always defeated a lion in all of the historic events i.e., English Kings, Roman Empire, Mughal Emperors etc. In all these fights an evenly matched lion and a tiger have contested against each other and the tiger has been the victorious one. Such encounters may never be witnessed again but the literature from the ancient empires confirm that a tiger is always ahead of lion in terms of its skill and sharpness within the fight. Therefore; in a lion vs tiger encounter, tiger is the ultimate winner.
Author: Usman Masood
Published Date: January 25, 2018
Last Modified: January 25, 2018
Genre: Lion vs Tiger, Lion Fight, Tiger Fight, Lion vs Tiger Comparison
Copyright Holder: © Ligerworld - All Rights Reserved
Copyright Year: 2018
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