What Is a Female Lion Called?



Female lions are usually smaller than males and have lighter color coats. They also tend to be more social and form strong bonds with other pride members. They can collaborate and strategize to bring down prey much larger than themselves. With so many impressive abilities, what is a female lion called?

A female lion is known as a “lioness” or “queen of the jungle.” Lionesses are more agile than male lions, allowing them to move faster and more efficiently while hunting. They are incredibly majestic creatures known for their beauty and strength. They also have an important role in protecting their cubs and maintaining the stability of their pride.

In this article, we’ll look at the characteristics of lionesses and what makes them so impressive.

Lioness laying down in the grass

The Female Lion – Her Role in the Pride

Female lions play an integral role in their pride. Here is a list of some roles female lions often take on: 

1. Lionesses Hunts For the Pride

Female lions are breadwinners for their pride. They are the hunters who provide food for their families.

They are strong and fierce and can take down prey much larger than themselves.

Female lions have the responsibility to hunt in pride because they are lighter than male lions, which makes them faster, more agile, and have more stamina.

That is why female lions are responsible for hunting down prey while males defend the pride territory.

2. Lead Hunting Strategies

Female lions are efficient hunters, using their expert knowledge of their environment and prey to come up with effective strategies for bringing down prey. 

They have excellent tracking skills and are often the first to spot potential targets

Once their prey has been identified, female lions will lead their pride in the hunt, coordinating tactics and movements to ensure a successful catch.

3. Raise the Cubs

Female lions are exceptionally devoted and dedicated mothers who take great pride in raising their cubs. They nurture them with warmth, protectiveness, and guidance throughout their early years of development. 

The female lion typically gives birth to two to four cubs after a gestation period of three to four months. She will keep her cubs hidden from the pride for the first few weeks, and she feeds them with her milk.

As cubs cannot see when they are born, they are totally dependent on their mothers. Even after opening their eyes, they cannot see properly for a few days or weeks.

After a while, she introduces them to the pride, and when they reach around the age of 3 months, they are introduced to raw hard food, which is meat.

A female lion teaches hunting tactics to all her cubs until they reach the age of 16 months or so. After which, the cubs are finally prepared to step into the hunting zone themselves.

Lioness and her cub laying down in the grass

4. Maintain Social Bonds

Female lions help maintain the social stability of their pride. They form strong bonds with other members, which helps to keep the pride together and protect it from outsiders.

This is especially important when defending their cubs or hunting for food. 

Female lions also help teach young cubs the social rules of life in the wild, such as cooperative behaviors and working together to achieve a common goal. 

Who Eats First After Hunting?

It is a point to be noted that despite all of the hard work done by female lions, the alpha male eats the hunted animal first. 

After which, the other members of the pride, including the ones involved in hunting, are allowed to eat.

It is because female lions have responsibilities of food, raising the cubs, etc., while the lions have a bigger responsibility to protect the pride from outside dangers.

Do Female Lions Ever Leave the Pride?

Female lions are territorial by nature and typically remain within the same pride for life.

However, there is evidence of some females dispersing from their birth pride to form a coalition with other female relatives. 

Female lions that form these groups don’t have a special name; they are also simply called a pride of lionesses, consisting of related lionesses and their cubs. 

A lioness may leave her pride due to resource competition and limited food availability, young males becoming aggressive or forcing her out, or if she decides to go off on her own and become a nomad.

When this happens, the female will travel alone or join a group of other nomadic female lions.

In addition to providing protection for their offspring, these groups can also help increase the chances of finding food and hunting successfully.

Who Mates With the Lioness?

The lioness typically mates with the dominant male in the pride. Female lions often mate with one or two dominant male lions in the pride. 

During mating season, the male lions compete for dominance and attempt to show their worthiness for mating with the lionesses by competing in displays of strength.

This competition is fierce, and male lions fight one another often to earn the right to mate with the females in the pride.

Once the dominant male successfully defeats the other males, he is finally eligible to mate and produce offspring.

Lion and Lioness mating

How Many Times Does a Lioness Breed?

A lioness breeds only once every two years. In some cases, they mate twice in two years, but in general, they only mate once

In captivity, things are different, as they are kept in safe conditions where they do not need to expend additional energy on hunting and protection, they can mate and rear cubs annually.

Do Female Lions Mate With Other Cat Species?

Yes, there have been cases where female lions have been crossbred with other feline species. In the wild though, female lions do not mate with other cat species. 

Even though felines, in general, are all related to each other and have some similarities, they differ greatly in terms of behavior, size, and habitat preferences. As a result, mating between different species of cats is highly unlikely.

Many experiments have been done in captivity to see the mating results between this cross-breeding technique. Often, when males are produced through crossbreeding, they are infertile, so the crossbred species does not develop further.


Tigron or tigon results from mating between a female lion and a male tiger. Unlike ligers which are large and heavier than lions and tigers, tigrons are relatively smaller. 

They have both the characteristics from the mother’s and the father’s side. Tigons are similar in size to that of a lion.


Leopons result from cross-breeding between a male leopard and a female lion. As lions and leopards tend to be fierce enemies, this is something that only really happens in labs and captivity. 

These offspring have a head that of a lion but a body like a leopard with patterns on it. The leopon shares the same traits as a leopard.

Final Thoughts On Lionesses

Female lions are called lionesses, and they play an important role in their pride. They are strong, independent animals that protect their cubs and take part in hunting for food.

Female lions typically mate with one or two dominant male lions in the pride and only breed once every two years.

In some rare cases, female lions have been known to mate with other cat species, producing offspring such as tigrons and leopons. Female lions are a vital part of the animal kingdom and deserve respect and admiration for their strength and courage.


Is The Lioness Called The Queen Of The Jungle?

Yes, lionesses are powerful and fearless hunters, often leading the hunting party in their pride to bring down prey with great agility and strength. Lionesses can also be fiercely protective mothers, raising their cubs until they are old enough to fend for themselves. As lions are known as the King of the jungle, it’s only apt that lionesses are the queens.

Are Prides Governed By A Female Lion? 

No, a female lion does not rule the pride, but lionesses are integral to the pride’s survival. They are responsible for bringing in the food for the pride and rearing the young.

What Is So Special About Lionesses?

Lionesses are some of the most beautiful and majestic creatures in the animal kingdom. They have a unique and special place in nature, particularly amongst the big cats. They hunt the food for the pride and raise their cubs, and they surely have an attitude like that of a queen


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