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Baby Lion: What They’re Called, Facts, and Pictures

Baby lions are called cubs. Lionesses give birth to litters of one to four cubs. Newborn cubs are helpless, blind, and barely able to crawl around. Their mother cares for them by herself for the first six to eight weeks, before rejoining the pride. Cubs can hunt and take care of themselves around the age of two.

Baby lions are called cubs. They are cute little animals and look different from adults. They have spots that start fading away after about 5 months.

Like regular kittens, cubs are fully dependent on their mother for the first few months.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at baby lions. We’ll see what they look like, how fast they grow up when they can hunt by themselves, and much more.

What Are Baby Lions Called?

Baby lions are called cubs.

Baby lions are called cubs. The word “cub” is generally used to refer to the young of big cats like lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars.

Unlike smaller and medium-sized cats like lynxes, bobcats, and domestic cats, baby lions aren’t called kittens.

What Are Baby Lions Called

What do Baby Lions Look Like?

Baby lions look different from adult lions. They are small, weighing between two and a half and four and a half pounds at birth. Unlike adults, they have spots all over their fur and their eyes are blueish-gray. Their fur has a fuzzier wooly look. With time their spots fade and their eyes change color.

Lion cubs look like large muscular cat kittens. They are clearly different from kittens, as they have a distinct wild, fierce appearance. 

Their fuzzy fur and muscular bodies make them look even bigger than they are.

They lose most of their juvenile traits as they grow. Their bright eye colors change color, their fur markings fade, and they eventually become adult lions.

Lion Cubs Size

Lion Cubs Size

Lion cubs are large for baby felines. A common cat’s kittens only weigh about a quarter of a pound when born. In contrast, a lion cub weighs between two and a half to four and a half pounds. They are at least eight times heavier than the average kitten.

Lions mature slower than smaller felines, as their large bodies need time to grow. On average a one-year-old lion cub is only half his mother’s height at the shoulder.[1]

In the wild, you can tell a cub’s age by comparing its height to its mother’s height.

Lion Cubs Colors

Lion Cubs Colors

Lion cubs have the same colors that adults have. Their coats range from a silvery-gray or light yellow to a darker reddish or brown. Young lions are generally lighter in color than older ones. 

Their underparts are also lighter, sometimes almost white.[2]

Lion cubs also have many different types of markings on their fur. This helps them camouflage and keeps them safe. Most of the markings fade as they grow. 

They have the following markings:

  • Spots: Lion cubs have spots or rosettes all over their bodies, especially on their backs, heads, and legs. These spots fade away as the young lions grow. Spots can still be visible, especially on the legs and underside.
  • Ocelli: Ocelli are the eye-like markings on the back of many felines’ ears. The back of the ear is lighter in color, with a black spot in the middle, making it look like an eye. Ocelli can give other animals the impression that they are noticed even when lions are facing the other way. They may also have a role in mother-cub communication.[3]
  • Tails: Lions have unique tails among felines. Their tails end in a tuft of dark fur that covers a hard piece of tail bone called a “spur”. In lion cubs, this tuft is missing and it only starts showing up after five and a half months old. Before this lion cubs have simple dark tail tips.

Baby lions have different eye colors than adults. After birth, their eyes are a blue, grayish-blue color. Their eyes slowly transition to a brown color as they grow.

Lion cubs can be completely white if they suffer from leucism. They are not albinos, as they have normal eye and skin pigmentation. 

Lion cubs can be white if both parents possess the recessive gene for leucism.[4]

Baby Lions’ Life Cycle

Baby lions have a slower life cycle compared to smaller felines like cougars. They grow up and mature slower as they are larger and need more time. Most lion cubs are completely weaned at around ten months old, and they can help in hunting. They continue growing until they are three to four years old.

Lion cubs are fully dependent on their mother for several months. After they are introduced and integrated into the pride they become more independent from their mother. 

They can only fully take care of themselves after the age of two.[5]

Baby Lions’ Life Cycle

Here are the stages of a lion cub’s development:

TimeCub behavior
After birthCubs are blind and helpless. They can barely crawl around the den. They drink their mother’s milk.
Around 3-11 days after birthTheir eyes open and they start moving around their den more. They still exclusively drink milk.
1-2 months oldThey are slowly introduced to the pride. They begin getting familiar with their extended family.
Around 3 months oldThey start eating some meat but they still consume mostly milk. They start observing and learning to hunt.
Around 6-10 months oldLion cubs are completely weaned and they switch to a hypercarnivore diet. Some lions develop slower than others. Most are completely weaned by six months old.
1-2 years oldThey slowly hone their hunting skills. Females integrate more into the pack, while males may start leaving it. Males’ manes start growing.
3-4 years oldLions reach maturity and can’t be considered cubs or sub-adult anymore.

Baby Lion Sounds

Baby lions make a lot of sounds. Most of these are also made by adults. Lion cubs vocalize much in the same way as the adults, but the sounds they make are higher in pitch. They do try to roar but usually end up sounding like a squeaky toy.

Baby lions make many of the same sounds that adults make:

  •  Meows
  • Growls and snarls
  • Huffs and puffs
  • Hums
  • Bleats
  • Roars (they sound more like squeaks)

Some of these sounds may be mistaken for purrs but lions can’t roar.

What Do Baby Lions Eat?

Baby lions drink their mother’s milk until they can eat meat around the age of three months. Depending on how fast they develop, some are weaned by six months old while others take up to ten months. After weaning, they eat the hypercarnivore diet of adult lions.

Lions are carnivores and they need meat to survive. However, lion cubs can’t eat meat until they are around three months old. 

Until this point, they will exclusively drink their mother’s milk to survive.

After three months they can eat some meat, but they still need milk. They slowly transition to a full carnivore diet and by the time they are six to ten months old, they don’t drink milk anymore.

Dangers For Baby Lions

Adult lions don’t have any natural predators, but baby lions are at risk of predation. They can be killed by other predators, such as hyenas and leopards. Lions may also be affected by diseases. Adult male lions also frequently kill the cubs of other males.

As the apex predators in their habitat, lions are dangerous. Adults don’t have any natural predators. Both lion cubs and adults may fall victim to disease and parasites.

Lion cubs are at a much higher risk of injury and death. Prey animals such as antelopes and buffalo can trample lion cubs. 

Predators like hyenas, leopards, and wild dogs frequently seize opportunities and attack vulnerable lions like cubs.

Lion cubs are also at risk of being killed by male lions. If the dominant male in their pride is displaced, the usurper will kill all the cubs unless several females manage to fight him off. 

It’s estimated that over a quarter of lion cubs die as a result of infanticide.[6]


Baby lions are called cubs. They look different from adults, they have spots and grayish-blue eyes. In time their spots fade away and their eyes change colors. They are fully dependent on their mothers after they’re born but they are slowly introduced to their pride and become more independent.

About Codrin Frunzete

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