Last Updated on May 14, 2024 by Ali Imtiyaj

When we discuss the two biggest cats in the world, comparisons between the two will inevitably creep in. The Bengal tiger and the lion are unlikely to live in the same place in the wild (while both the Bengal tiger and the Asiatic lion live in India, it’s not in the same range). Thus, there’s very little chance of the two being found together but we should still be aware of the differences beyond the obvious physical ones. tiger size compared to human

Bengal Tiger

The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is a subspecies of tigers found throughout India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and southwestern China. As far as pure size and muscle mass is concerned, they are the biggest cats alive in the world today. 

They’re also an endangered species even though they’re an extremely adaptable species and are capable of surviving in various habitats, from dense mangrove forests to dry temperate forests in the foothills of the Himalayas. Poaching and loss of habitat has gradually led to the decrease in the numbers of tigers in the 20th century. However, the numbers are steadily rising even though the lack of habitat remains a problem.

Related Article: Saber Tooth Tiger Size Explained & Compared With Others

Lion

The lion (Panthera leo) is a large cat that is native to Africa and the Gir Forest in India. Unlike other cats, both big and small, the lion is a very social species and lives in groups called prides. They live in grasslands and savannahs. 

It is believed that at one point lions used to roam all around Africa and Eurasia. However, they have been completely wiped out from Eurasia except one small population in western India. They’re a vulnerable species despite being found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Muscular and broad-chested cats, the males are quite a bit larger than the females. 

Appearance

The most obvious difference between tigers and lions, of course, is their appearance. Both species are quite unmistakeable to look at. 

Tigers have yellow or orange coats with stripes that range from brown to black. With a white belly and white interiors for their limbs, the Bengal tiger is a muscular big cat with a large, broad face. They have large brains in comparison to their body size and their brains are said to be 25 percent larger than that of a lion. White Bengal tigers, while possible, are rare and result from a recessive mutant and not from albinism. 

Lions, on the other hand, are tan in color without any spots or stripes to distinguish them. Their fur can range from silvery grey to yellowish red and the underparts are generally slightly lighter in shade. What sets the lion apart is the mane surrounding the male lion’s face. They have tails that end in a hairy tuft and African lions are larger in size than the Indian lion. Their skulls are slightly flatter and more depressed than that of the tiger. 

Related Article: Siberian Tiger Size Explained & Compared With Others

Size

Tigers are without a doubt larger than lions. Adult male Bengal tigers generally weigh between 200 and 260 kg (440 – 570 lb) while females weigh in at 110 – 180 kg (240 – 400 lb). However, a weight of 270 kg (600 lb) for adult males isn’t unheard of. They’re also quite long in size, reaching lengths of 183 – 211 cm (72 – 83 inches) for males and 164 – 193 cm (65 – 76 inches) for females.

Lions, on the other hand, are lighter. Adult males can be anywhere between 160 and 225 kg (350 – 496 lb), depending on where they’re from. Females are 110 – 143.5 kg (240 – 316.4 lb) in weight. As far as head and body length is concerned, they measure about 184 – 208 cm (72 – 82 inches) for males and 160 – 184 cm (63 – 72 inches) for females. 

AnimalLengthWeight
Bengal TigerMales 183 – 211 cm (72 – 83 in)Females 164 – 193 cm (65 – 72 in)Males 200 – 270 kg (440 – 600 lb)Females 110 – 180 kg (240 – 400 lb)
LionMales 184 – 208 cm (72 – 82 in)Females 160 – 184 cm (63 – 72 in)Males 160 – 225 kg (350 – 496 lb)Females 110 – 143.5 kg (240 – 316.4 lb)

Habitat

Bengal tigers live in tropical and temperate lush forests throughout South Asia. They require suffecient tree cover and a lot of water for the sake of camouflage and staying cool. They can also be found in grasslands, swampy areas and mountainous areas. They’ve even been spotted at the considerable altitude of 4200 m in Bhutan, which is the highest altitude record for a tiger.

Lions are found in the grasslands and savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa (except for one population in western India). They prefer dry scrub forests and open woodlands that border rivers since it makes it easier for them to hunt in large numbers. Lions, unlike the tiger, hardly enter dense forests. The Asiatic lives in the dry deciduous scrub forests and savannas of Gir National Park.

Temperament

Tigers are solitary and nocturnal creatures that hunt alone. Other than a mother with cubs, it is extremely rare to find tigers coexisting together. They have home ranges (not always very clearly defined) that they patrol constantly. While they’re well-aware of other adults that live in the same area, their interactions are limited except for members of the opposite sex during breeding season. See the Lion vs Tiger Fight

Tigers are also generally much more active than lions and spend considerable amounts of time walking around. Long migrations for young adults have been recorded. They also hunt big ungulates and may occasionally even hunt other predators like leopards or crocodiles. 

Lions, however, are a very social species for a big cat. They live in groups called prides, which can contain as many as fifteen lions at a time. This includes adult males, adult females and their cubs. Females usually continue living with their birth pride while most males and some females will disperse. Nomadic lions are rare.

Lions are a lazy lot and spend about twenty hours of the day just resting. They have intermittent spurts of activity when they may hunt. The hunting is diurnal in nature and the preferred prey is big ungulates. The females of the pride generally do group hunting. Adult males may at times indulge in solo hunts. 

Bite Force

Tigers have a higher bite force than lions because they have bigger canines. Since they usually hunt larger prey solo, the bite force is very necessary. Documents of historical fights between tigers and lions typically result in tigers being the winner. It would be foolish to bet against the bigger species which is both more muscular and used to hunting solo.

Lifespan

The Bengal tiger also has a longer lifespan than the lion. Where the average lifespan of a tiger in the wild is 15 – 20 years, the average lifespan of a lion in the wild is 12 years for males and 15 – 16 years for females. In captivity, of course, the lifespans of both species is longer with tigers living up to 20 – 26 years.

Conclusion

The Bengal tiger and the lion, both majestic apex predators, reign supreme in their respective habitats. While tigers boast a larger size and stronger bite, lions dominate with their social prowess. Understanding these fascinating differences is crucial for appreciating the unique roles they play in the ecosystem. Let’s protect these big cats and their vital role in maintaining a healthy balance in nature.

FAQs

Which is faster, a tiger or a lion?

Both tigers and lions are fast sprinters, but tigers likely have a slight edge due to their lighter build. However, lions rely more on group hunting tactics than speed.

Can lions and tigers breed together?

Lions and tigers are separate species and can’t breed in the wild. In captivity, however, very rare offspring called ligers or tigons can occur, but they are sterile.

Are tigers or lions more dangerous to humans?

Both tigers and lions are dangerous predators, but tiger attacks on humans are more frequent. Lions typically avoid humans unless threatened or extremely hungry.

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