We often associate Lions with being the kings of the jungle.
Naturally we always associate them with dominating the landscape that they inhabit, and that’s for a good reason.
But Alligators and Crocodiles also deserve that same respect, they’ve been around for a LOT longer than Lions, and they’re the top of the food chain too.
So do these titans ever face off? And if so does the king of the jungle like the taste of reptiles.
Crocodile meat has a notoriety from some people as being an inedible meat due to their acidic stomach, and the misconception that there is acidic bile that taints their meat.
This isn’t true, and as well as lions being perfectly happy eating a crocodile or alligator, even us humans love eating them.
In parts of Africa and Asia crocodile and alligator is often cooked into delicious meals, and in the southern parts of America it’s commonly found on menus too.
Rest assured, lions wouldn’t turn down some crocodile if they were hungry.
It’s easy to say that an alligator or crocodile could hold its own against a lion, or the lion would simply walk all over the reptiles, but the key to these predators success is that they dominate in the surroundings that they call home, and these surroundings are wildly different from one another, so let’s take a closer look at where the lion calls home.
Where Do These Predators Live
Lion’s will generally find themselves living in wide open spaces where they can clearly see their prey and use their teamwork,speed and power to dominate their prey.
This is why in most cases we can see lions living in large open grasslands, open woodlands, dense scrub or the savanna.
In clear contrast to that, crocodiles or alligators are ambush predators that operate in semi-aquatic areas, they prefer to work alone when hunting but will all generally congregate in one area.
Crocodiles have special glands inside of their tongues that remove excess salt, so they’re generally found in mangroves and estuaries with saltwater.
Alligators don’t have this gland so they’re usually found in freshwater instead, they’re noticeably smaller than their close relatives, and they wouldn’t usually be found in the same places as a lion would.
But the lion would eat them all the same.
How Often Do Lions Eat Crocodiles?
So now that we’ve established that lions wouldn’t turn down eating some crocodile, how often does this happen?
Whilst there’s many different recorded instances of lions and crocodiles fighting, they’re both well aware of each other’s presence, and because of that they rarely choose to fight.
Instead of either of them risking their lives fighting to eat each other, they’d both much rather stick to their usual prey, which is defenseless, and won’t ever fight back.
As well as this, lions in particular would prefer a different meat, one more suited to their more typical tastes such as wildebeest, zebras,antelope, buffalo, and larger animals like giraffes.
Crocodiles simply aren’t worth the danger or the effort for the amount of their meat and their taste for lions. But that doesn’t mean they won’t turn down an easy target.
A Display Of Dominance
Sometimes though, Lions show their pride in a real life or death manner.
If the croc and lion fight over the corpse of another animal, or perhaps the croc is just annoying the lion, then the lion wouldn’t shy away from killing the croc and abandoning the corpse.
This is a display of dominance from the lions, to show they can’t be trifled with.
An Easy Target
Sometimes, even reptiles as old as the dinosaurs need a recharge, crocodiles are ectothermic animals, which means that they maintain their own body temperature by absorbing heat from the surrounding environment.
This is why Crocs will often go onto shore to bathe in sunlight.
However, this can take quite a long time, and during that time they’re usually much slower, leaving them vulnerable to the lions.
Lions are lazy too, they don’t want to work harder than they have to, and so if they see a weary croc recharging his batteries on the shore, then it’s certainly an enticing prospect.
How Does A Lion Kill A Crocodile?
Well, a single lion doesn’t. Because lions are intrinsically pack animals, they use their numbers to their advantage when hunting crocodiles.
Usually abusing the slow speeds of the crocodile on land by attacking their tail and then getting it to turn so that another lion can bite the croc in the neck, allowing for a clean, quick kill.
The Crocodile Fights Back
But these attacks from the lions rarely go according to plan so well.
As I said before, crocodile’s are naturally ambush predators, and will attack their prey when they least expect it.
Because of this, lions also have their vulnerabilities from croc attacks, as when they go to drink they could easily be ambushed by a croc, and its incredibly powerful bite would mean certain doom before the lion would even realize.
As well as this, crocodiles also have decent night vision because of a transparent membrane over the surface of their eyes, which lions don’t have.
So don’t think this is such a one sided fight! In this battle between predators, whichever strikes first will generally win the battle.
To conclude, both Crocodiles and Lions are at the top of the food chain in their habitats, and whilst neither would turn away the opportunity of a free meal, it’s rare that either predator would attack one another unless the situation for food was dire, or the opportunity was too good to pass up.
The risks of fighting for these two kings simply isn’t worth the reward.
But In saying that though, lions are not fussy eaters, and if you were a crocodile you’d be smart to keep your eye out for lions.