Do Lions Eat Fish? (The Answer May Surprise You)

All animals have pretty diverse diets and while some species stick to eating the same foods over and over again (looking at you, pandas) but others will eat anything you put in front of them. So, what about lions? 

Do Lions Eat Fish

Here, we are going to be taking a closer look at lions and their diet to what kind of unusual foods a lion has eaten.

We are going to be looking at lions and if they can eat fish, or if they might even actively hunt for fish! 

If you are wondering if a lion can or would eat fish as part of their diet, then check out the information here! 

Can Lions Eat Fish?

Lions are carnivores which means that they get most of their nutrients from meat.

This means that every part of their biology – from their teeth to claws to their guts – are designed to digest meat.

Because of this, it is possible for lions to eat and digest fish without falling sick or suffering from indigestion. So, yes – lions can actually eat fish.

If you wanted to feed a lion a bit of fish on a stick, then they would eat it up and be perfectly fine afterwards. 

The only issue is that lions don’t often have the chance to eat fish, so it is not a huge part of their diet. 

Do Lions Hunt For Fish?

A lion’s daily diet is made up of animals like antelopes, zebras and wildebeest.

Their diets can be diverse and they will try to hunt pretty much any kind of prey they can find, but most lions will stick to eating land mammals above all other kinds of creatures. 

This is because lions themselves are land mammals and thus they are built to hunt on land.

They live in environments like the savannah, glasslands and sometimes even on the edges of deserts.

Because of this, lions do not do a lot of swimming or interaction with water – especially when any large bodies of water are probably inhabited by dangerous aquatic animals like hippopotamuses or crocodiles. 

Not only that, but lions are not built for hunting in the water.

Sure, they can swim from one side of a river to the next but they do not feature any gills or scales or fins that help them hunt in large bodies of water. 

Lions have a much better success rate when hunting on dry land and so, they are not about to go hunting for fish in bodies of water where they themselves can be the prey to other predators like crocodiles.

So, lions hunt predominantly on land and thus their diets are mainly made up of land animals. 

Even if a lion took the  time to try and hunt for fish, it would be a waste of time and energy. A single fish does not contain enough nutrition to sustain an adult lion.

Lions can go days without eating but in one sitting, they will consume around a quarter of their body weight – which is roughly around 110 pounds of meat! 

If a lion tried to live on a diet of fish, they would have to catch around 10 largemouth bass fish to get the same amount of nutrition as a gazelle.

Because lions are not built for hunting in the water, they are way less likely to have any success at catching a single fish, yet alone ten! 

So, it makes no sense for a lion to actively hunt out fish and try to live off them instead of hunting for other types of prey like zebras or antelopes.

Therefore, lions do not bother trying to hunt fish for themselves and put their efforts into catching more bountiful prey. 

However, this does not mean that a lion will turn up their nose if they find a freshly dead fish.

Meat is meat and the lion will probably tuck in as long as the fish is not rotten – but to actively go out and try and find their own fish? Forget it! 

Do Lions Eat Fish In Captivity?

Although lions have the capability to eat fish, this does not mean that they should be fed it as part of their regular diet. 

Zoos try to mimic an animal’s diet as it would be in the wild although they do try to shake things up with something different now and again to help enrich the animals to keep them happy and healthy. 

With lions, they are usually fed the same kind of meat as they would in the wild. Because zookeepers cannot get their hands on meat like zebras or antelopes, they will look for the next best thing.

Zookeepers will feed their lions the closest possible alternatives to their food sources in the wild.

This usually ends up being farm animals  that have already died but are not fit for human consumption, so a lion’s menu in a zoo usually consists of beef, horse, chicken, and sheep.

But, because fish is not on that wildlife menu, zookeepers don’t really bother giving their lions fish. 


So, do lions eat fish? 

They have the potential to eat fish because fish is a type of meat and lions are carnivores, which means they must eat meat to survive.

However, lions are not built for hunting fish nor would they receive enough nutrients from a fish to justify the effort put into catching one.

Hunting in the water would be very dangerous for lions too due to other predators like crocodiles being far superior in bodies of water. 

So, lions don’t bother hunting fish and instead go for animals that they are more likely to successfully catch like zebras or gazelles.

In zoos, zookeepers feed their lions a similar diet to what they would eat in the wild and as a result, fish do not appear on their captivity menu either. 

So, overall, lions can eat fish but they don’t because of all of the above reasons!

Joe Edwards