Tiger vs lion – Battle of the biggest cats

Tiger vs lion fight - who would win

Tiger vs lion. Who would win between these two big and ferocious cats? This theoretical question has sparked many debates and is a source of great interest and intrigue for many people.

This is because tigers and lions are both apex predators, meaning they both reside at the top of their respective food chains. The lion rules the savannah and grasslands, while the tiger rules the jungle.

While these two cats have their similarities, they are vastly different. From their physical appearance to their behavioral traits, there are many factors that could influence the outcome of this fight.

To answer the big question, “tiger vs lion”, let us take a deeper look at the battle of the giants, and find out who the real victor would be.

Lions vs Tigers: Who is the King of the Jungle?

The King of the Savanna - Black and White

The lion enjoys the title of the undisputed king of the jungle. So the answer to “lion vs tiger who would win” is obvious. Lions are the kings, right? Erm, no.

The mythical image of lions roaming around heavily overgrown jungles, making other jungle inhabitants shrink and quake in their presence, is fundamentally wrong on every level.

Lions live almost everywhere in Africa, apart from the jungle. And lion prides don’t have kings either.

A jungle-dwelling lion with a ferocious roar is a story sold in children’s books and kids’ cartoons. And seriously, what kind of real lion rules from a throne?

Lions live almost exclusively on the vast savannas and far-reaching plains of Africa. They much prefer the yellow dust and the scorched land, to the brown, damp dirt of the covered jungle floor.

Majestic Bengal tiger in typical jungle habitat

In reality, no animal can lay greater claim to being king of any jungle than the tiger. Many tiger species’ natural habitat is, in fact, a jungle. So it already has an unassailable lead over the lion in the race for jungle royalty supremacy.

But before we can definitively conclude which of these carnivorous cats would be victorious in a fatal feline fight, we must cast an objective eye over their respective strengths and weaknesses.

So, let’s take a closer look at tiger vs lion. Here are two undoubtedly magnificent and equally unparalleled specimens.

Lion vs Tiger Size Comparison

Mohican the male lion in the Masai Mara, Kenya

Let’s assume that the combatants in this make-believe battle are male.

In the case of both tiger and lion, males are much bulkier than their female counterparts and the main event on any fight card is always the heavyweights.

However, if female tigers and lions were to scrap it out, the fight would still be fierce and brutal.

Lion vs tiger weight (in kg)

Out on the African savanna, a respectably proportioned male lion can reach a weight of 200 kg (440 lbs). Females will struggle to tip the scales at 130 kg (287 lbs) but they are faster and better hunters.

It’s a similar story in the tiger realm, with an almost identical disparity between the weights of the male and female – males weighing approximately 220 kg (485 lbs), while females weigh in at around 130 kg (287 lbs).

Are tigers bigger than lions?

Big male tiger in Bandhavgarh National Park

Is a tiger bigger than a lion? When considering size, tigers generally have the upper hand. Adult male tigers measure between 2.4 meters (8 ft) and 3.3 meters (10.9 ft) in length, depending on the species. Adult male lions measure between 1.70 meters (5.6 ft) and 2.5 meters (8.2 ft).

As the largest great cat prowling the Earth, we may assume that the tiger possesses a greater ability to out muscle its cat cousins. But muscle does not always translate into power.

Learn all about tiger vs lion size comparison here.

Are Tigers Stronger Than Lions?

Both the lion and tiger are incredibly powerful specimens. Putting this into numbers, a lion exerts a bite force of 650 PSI. Lions can also jump more than 3-meter (10 ft) vertical jump high and can lift up to 1040 kg (2300 lbs) in weight. All these characteristics make the lion super strong.

While lions are strong, the tiger outperforms it in every aspect, except speed. Tigers have an incredibly strong bite force of 1050 PSI and can jump up to 4.9 meters (16 ft) high. And their paw swipe alone is estimated at 4536 kg (10 000 lbs).

It was reported that, in 2010, at a Turkish zoo, a tiger killed a lion in a single swipe through a gap in a door dividing their cages. It’s worth noting that this was by no means a fair fight, so we cannot conclude who would be the winner if this battle were to take place in the wild.

Lion vs Tiger Stamina

Bengal tiger walking along the lake in Ranthambore National Park

Spanning the globe, from as far afield as the sub-zero temperatures of Siberia to the sweltering and scorching nations of Asia, the tiger is an adventurous and versatile creature.

Not averse to a cross-country or cross-continent trek, taking days or weeks, often at amazingly high altitudes, the tiger’s day-to-day activity is more taxing than a lion’s stresses and strains can ever be.

Naturally constructed to stalk and stride across all terrains for tens of miles at a time, the tiger could probably be fight-ready tomorrow.

Male lion napping on top of a sand dune, in the Kalahari desert

In complete contrast, the lion’s short supply of stamina means it will have to do everything to make a tiger vs lion fight a quick knockout.

Lions sleep or doze for 16-20 hours a day. In comparison to tigers they have small home territories. They don’t need to roam as their territory provides great food to attract grazers.

However, lions can withstand the sun, so maybe if lion vs tiger took place in the midday heat they would gain an advantage.

Another misleading metaphor is the phrase, ‘heart of a lion’. Lions have a comparatively compact heart and lungs. They don’t have the necessary respiration to keep up the pace with a tiger.

The lion will be out of gas pretty quickly if it tries to stand toe-to-toe and trade blow-for-blow with this ‘pur-fectly’ conditioned opponent.

Different Lion and Tiger Species

An angry male member of the Olkiombo pride, growling

Lion species

To attempt to answer who would be left standing in a duel between these two super-heavyweights, it’s important to think beyond tiger vs lion. Both animals have multiple species. So which tiger and lion will be stepping into the ring?

There is only one major species of lion, named ‘Panthera leo’. There are a small variety of subspecies, such as the white lion and Asiatic lion. However, the physical and behavioral differences are quite minor and few in number.

Lions are 200 kg apex predators that rule their environment. And since we celebrate wild Africa at Africa Freak, let’s take the Africa Panthera leo into the lion vs tiger duel.

Tiger species

Bengal tiger staring at the camera

In contrast, the tiger family contains a hugely diverse array of shapes, colors and sizes.

There were once nine clearly defined species of this majestic cat, predominantly named based on the region they originated.

Sadly, three of the tiger categorizations find themselves on the list of extinct animals – Caspian Tigers, Bali Tigers, and Javan Tigers.

Others hover precariously, poised to follow into the abyss if something isn’t done to revitalize their numbers. Among these, the Sumatran Tiger and the South China Tiger are the most endangered.

Not wanting to contribute further to their dwindling numbers, we cannot select either of the above species to take part in our metaphorical melee. A possible loss of one more Sumatran or South-China tiger could be detrimental to their already receding ranks.

So, to make the fight fair, from those species still left living and breathing, which will you select for tiger vs lion?

Siberian Tiger vs Lion

Siberian tiger running in the snow at full speed

Keeping in mind that Siberian tigers are significantly bigger than their closest tiger relatives, this may be a fight that even the most fearless lion would not want.

Imagine two of the sumo world’s heaviest wrestlers lying on top of each other with you underneath their combined weight (300 kg)! Only then can you get a sense of how it would feel to be sat on by a fully grown Siberian tiger.

Weighing a colossal 320 kg, these big daddies of the tiger family dwarf all other cats creeping on all-fours.

As the largest of all the big cats, Siberian tigers are the super-heavyweights of these hypothetical contests. Unlike sumo wrestlers, Siberian tigers are also incredibly fast. It’s a perilous prediction to think this muscle-bound beast can be beaten to the punch or outmaneuvered. But maybe they can.

A tiger has a top speed of 50-65 km/h over short bursts. But how fast can lions run? The answer is an impressive 81 kmh (50.3 mph), giving it a slight edge in terms of speed.

But we can’t put a 200 kg lion in against such a 320 kg super heavyweight. Let’s make lion vs tiger a little fairer.

Bengal Tiger vs African Lion

Beautiful male Bengal tiger in stealth mode

Instead, we nominate the brutish Bengal tiger as the ideal adversary for the lion.

Larger than most but a little closer to a lion’s overall size, the Bengal will more than hold its own. A fit and healthy Bengal tiger can reach a mass of around 225 kg (500 lbs).

It’s big enough to brawl, but not so oversized that the bout is over before it begins.

The everyday fight fan wants to see a fair and evenly matched contest. A Bengal tiger vs a lion could be the perfect combination, to make sure that a massacre is avoided and the event goes past the first few rounds.

Arguably the most well-known among its tiger realm, the Bengal would be the perfect predator to draw in the crowds for the tiger vs lion show.

Tigers vs Lions – The Fight

Now that we have looked at tiger size vs lion size and factors that might influence the result, it is time for the main event. Below we will try to paint a picture of what one could expect out of this hypothetical fight between the wild’s two largest cats.

Tiger and lion ring walks

Pride of lions walking through the Masai Mara grasslands

As a social animal that is rarely seen outside the safety of its pride, the lion will almost certainly make his way to the ring enveloped by an enormous entourage.

His pre-match posse may give a false sense of protection to the lion, before he inevitably has to stand alone before his much bigger and stronger competitor.

He could come into the ring with a song from The Lion King, but that won’t scare anyone. So how about Iron Lion Zion by Bob Marley?

Bengal tiger in the rain, Ranthambore

On the other hand, tigers spend most of their adult life in solitary, roaming grasslands and rainforests and wading through thick, sticky wet swamp. For this reason, the tiger will possess little apprehension towards this latest challenge of cat-to-cat combat.

He will swagger through the gathered crowds with a scornful expression smeared across a whiskered face. There will be little doubt or indecision in the mighty cat’s mind. He knows that he owns the obvious authority and the greater number of physical assets to win the battle of the cats.

“It’s the eye of the tiger, the thrill of the fight, risin’ up to the challenge of our rival.” Okay, maybe Survivor is a little too obvious for the ring walk music but how else does the tiger enter the ring?

Tiger versus lion face-off

It is said that a dog’s bark is often worse than its bite. As a pair of animals who don’t have the ability to bark, the roar is the go-to form of communication for a tiger or a lion when things are getting a little edgy or tense.

With both boasting an impressively intimidating capacity to cry out in a reverberating roar, which of these two rivals can project the most noise and make his opponent nervous?

Both can bawl out a roar that echoes for many miles, striking fear and panic into anything or anyone within earshot.

So ready for it. Seconds out… ding ding, it’s time for the tiger vs lion fight.

Tiger vs Lion – Who Will Win?

Tiger vs Lion Fight

Of course, they are not going to fight. Sorry to disappoint anyone wanting a definitive answer to who would win in a tiger vs lion fight.

At Africa Freak we celebrate wild Africa. So let’s celebrate what these incredible animals can bring to the world, not just a hypothetical boxing ring.

Both lions and tigers are the apex predators of their environment. Both are endangered because too many people believe they can take on tigers or lions with guns.

So how about a different fight. Anyone can claim a real tiger or lion skin if they can kill one with their bare hands. No weapons, no assistance, nothing else. Just man vs cat.

We will never know the outcome of lion vs tiger because these animals do not have overlapping habitats. But we do know who wins when it comes to a fair fight between lions or tigers and humans. So let’s keep it at that.

For a chance to see these large cats in their natural habitat, check out these incredible safari deals.

And if you enjoyed this hypothetical battle, you may also want to explore the strengths of other beautiful mammals like bear vs gorilla or bear vs lion.

4 thoughts on “Tiger vs lion – Battle of the biggest cats”

  1. Some inaccuracies here. Much of the huge sizes of the Siberian tiger are exaggerated and are either old or taken in captivity. There have been very few tigers that weigh over 500 lbs in recorded history and 500 lbs is more or less what the biggest lions weigh.

    Also, it might surprise you to know but lions only sleep 20+ hours when it’s extremely hot. They usually average about 13-18 hours while tigers average 15-18 hours of sleep so again…not a huge difference but a slight edge is given to the lion. They also have similar bite force (1,000 psi according to National Geographic). And a lion’s roar travels farther than a tiger’s roar.

    But I agree that it’s difficult to determine which would win. There are historical and even modern accounts (usually newspapers) of BOTH killing each other mostly in captivity in zoos and circuses with usually the same amount of frequency and vice versa.

  2. When you put side by side a lion and a tiger of similar size, the lion will have bigger neck, shoulders and chest. The lion = power-agility, the tiger = agility-power. The lion’s muscles mass is more concentrated to the front for greater power, the lion uses his unique forelimbs to pull down big prey or strike them. The tiger’s muscles mass is more evenly distributed for greater agility. The tiger is a grabber not a striker. As the single hunter the lion has the greatest predator-prey weight ratio among the land predators.

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