Science, Tech, Math › Animals & Nature Lion Pictures Share Flipboard Email Print Animals & Nature Mammals Amphibians Birds Habitat Profiles Reptiles Wildlife Conservation Insects Marine Life Forestry Dinosaurs Evolution View More By Laura Klappenbach Ecology Expert M.S., Applied Ecology, Indiana University Bloomington B.S., Biology and Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Laura Klappenbach, M.S., is a science writer specializing in ecology, biology, and wildlife. our editorial process Laura Klappenbach Updated May 06, 2019 01 of 12 Lion Portrait Lion - Panthera leo. Photo © Laurin Rinder / Shutterstock. Lions are the largest of all African cats. They are the second largest cat species worldwide, smaller than only the tiger. Lions range in color from nearly white to tawny yellow, ash brown, ochre, and deep orange-brown. They have a tuft of dark fur at the tip of their tail. Lions are the largest of all African cats. They are the second largest cat species worldwide, smaller than only the tiger. 02 of 12 Sleeping Lion Lion - Panthera leo. Photo © Adam Filipowicz / Shutterstock. Lions range in color from nearly white to tawny yellow, ash brown, ochre, and deep orange-brown. They have a tuft of dark fur at the tip of their tail. 03 of 12 Lioness Lounging Lion - Panthera leo. Photo © LS Luecke / Shutterstock. The social groups lions form are called prides. A pride of lions typically includes about five females and two males and their young. Prides are often described as matriarchal because more females belong to a pride, they remain long-term members of the pride and they live longer than male lions. 04 of 12 Lioness in Tree Lion - Panthera leo. Photo © Lars Christensen / Shutterstock. Lions are unique among felids in that they are the only species that forms social groups. All other felids are solitary hunters. 05 of 12 Lion Silhouette Lion - Panthera leo. Photo © Keith Levit / Shutterstock. The life of a male lion is socially more precarious than that of a female lion. Males must win their way into a pride of females and once they do they must fend off challenges from males outside the pride who try to take their place. 06 of 12 Lion Portrait Lion - Panthera leo. Photo © Keith Levit / Shutterstock. Male lions are in their prime between the ages of 5 and 10 years and often do not live long after that period. Male lions rarely remain part of the same pride for more than 3 or 4 years. 07 of 12 Lioness Portrait Lion - Panthera leo. Photo courtesy Shutterstock. Male and female lions differ in their size and appearance. Although both sexes have a uniformly colored coat of a tawny brown color, males have a thick mane while females have no mane. Males are also larger than females. 08 of 12 Lion Cub Lion - Panthera leo. Photo © Steffen Foerster Photography / Shutterstock. Female lions often give birth at about the same time which means the cubs within a pride are of a similar age. The females will suckle one another's young but that doesn't mean it's an easy life for cubs within the pride. Weaker offspring are often left to fend for themselves and often die as a consequence. 09 of 12 Lioness Yawning Lion - Panthera leo. Photo courtesy Shutterstock. Lions often hunt together with other members of their pride. The prey they capture usually weighs between 50 and 300 kg (110 and 660 pounds). When prey within that weight range is not available, lions are forced to either catch smaller prey weighing as little as 15 kg (33 pounds) or much larger prey weighing as much as 1000 kg (2200 pounds). 10 of 12 Lion Couple Lion - Panthera leo. Photo © Beat Glauser / Shutterstock. Male and female lions differ in their size and appearance. Females have a uniformly colored coat of a tawny brown color and they lack a mane. Males have a thick, woolly mane of fur that frames their face and covers their neck. Females weigh less than males, averaging about 125 kg (280 pounds) versus the male average weight of 180 kg (400 pounds). 11 of 12 Lioness on the Lookout Lion - Panthera leo. Photo courtesy Shutterstock. Lions play-fight as a means of honing their hunting skills. When they play-fight, the don't bear their teeth and the keep their claws retracted so as to not inflict injury on their partner. Play-fighting enables the lions to practice their battle skills which is useful for tackling prey and it also helps to establish relationships among the pride members. It is during play that lions work out which members of the pride are to chase and corner their quarry and which members of the pride are the ones to go in for a kill. 12 of 12 Three Lions Lion - Panthera leo. Photo © Keith Levit / Shutterstock. Lions inhabit central and southern Africa and the Gir Forest in northwest India.