Lion copulation information

Lions copulate in a way that puts humans to shame in terms of frequency and speed! Here are some statistics. This is a slightly sensitive subject but the information that I have is interesting so I thought I would present it to the public. When a male lion attempts to mount a female, she may evade his advances and swot him away or growl and snarl.

When he is finally allowed to mate with his chosen female, which might be his daughter, he sometimes grasps the female by the neck and the typical way that we see domestic cats mate.

Lions mating. Montage by MikeB based on images in the public domain.
Lions mating. Montage by MikeB based on images in the public domain.



When a lion copulates, the act averages 21 seconds in duration. Across all copulations it lasts from between 8 to 70 seconds (G.B. Schaller 1972). Captive lions under observation in one study copulated 360 times in 8 days (J. Kingdon 1989).

G.B. Schaller, in his study observed one nomadic male lion mating 157 times in 55 hours. During this period, he did not eat despite the fact that some lionesses were feeding on a wildebeest about 100 meters away.

For the female, oestrus lasts on average 4 days and recurs every 2 or 3 weeks until the she conceives.

As is the case with domestic cats, when the male lion withdraws his penis is very painful because it is barbed just like the penis of domestic cats. She may twist around and attack the male who has finished copulating. This is why the males grasps her by the scruff in his jaws. This helps to pacify the female. It invokes the kitten response - the response the female desires when carrying cubs.

Female lions, like domestic cats, are stimulated to ovulate by the trigger of the pain caused by the withdrawal of the male's spiny penis. Cats do not ovulate like humans. They only ovulate after they have been mated by a male. It takes a little while, about 25 to 30 hours.

Females differ from other large wild cat species in that they don't advertise their impending sexual receptivity in the way other cats do with calling or by increasing their scent marking. The females don't need to do this as males in the pride are already there.

The males can figure out if a lioness is receptive by smelling her anal area and by her willingness to mate. If she's in heat or about to be in heat the male lion will attempt to stay with her.

Female lions in oestrus are restless, they roll, turn, twist and jump up and walk a few paces and lie down in front of the males who are close by. They move as the males move.

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