Categories: Lion

Do lions lose their teeth?

Yes, lions do sometimes lose some of their teeth as this excellent photograph by Ernest Porter shows. It was taken in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. This male has lost his lower incisor teeth bar one and he has broken off one of this canine teeth on his lower jaw. There are three obvious ways that a lion can lose his teeth: hunting and killing, fighting other lions and eating.

Lion lost some of his teeth. Photo: Ernest Porter/Mercury Press.

I’d expect the most likely way to lose teeth is during hunting and killing which can be dangerous for lions. Although there is a story of a male lion completely losing one of his lower canine teeth when fighting with a lioness. I’d expect the incisors on the lower jaw to be lost eating rapidly and without concern for injury to teeth. Perhaps biting onto bone and gristle and pulling with force. The last remaining incisor in the photograph is broken which to me indicates that his lower incisors were broken off and lost while biting into bone.

The teeth lost by this individual does not leave the lion disabled. They still function. But if the teeth, particularly the large, stabbing canines, are badly damaged it may impair a lion’s ability to kill its normal prey. We often see broken canine teeth. It may turn to killing humans who are very easy to kill.

It is said that all big cat man-eaters are or were infirm or disabled cats who were forced to kill humans to survive. Sometimes people may injure a tiger and ironically force the animal to hunt them in return. It is called the “infirmity theory”.

In 1989 two lions in Kenya (the Lions of Tsavo) hunted and killed more than 130 railway workers. Why did they routinely hunt people: prey that was utterly untypical? They were found to be suffering from massive toothache due to abscesses and severe dental problems according to a Field zoologist, Bruce Patterson, and a Waukegan dentist. The two lions were eventually killed by the railroad’s construction engineer, Lt. Col. John Patterson. He turned their skins into rungs for his home and eventually sold them to the Field Museum for $5,000 in 1926.

A famous big cat hunter turned conservationist, Jim Corbett (an Indian tiger reserve is named after him) said that when he was asked to kill a man-eating big cat (which happened quite often), time and again he discovered that the animal was suffering from old age and injury causing crippling infirmity.

Lion cub tries to roar and it’s cute

This is a cute video of a lion cub trying to roar (we think). The facial expression suggests that this ...
Read More

Do lions kill and eat cheetahs?

Yes, lions do kill and eat cheetahs but this isn't the full story. Two separate sources tell me that lions ...
Read More

What to do if a lion charges you?

It doesn't matter whether we are talking about a lion or any of the big cats (and include the puma), ...
Read More

Hermann Göring’s Pet Lions

The Nazis used animals as trappings of tyranny writes David Crossland in The Times today. Adolf Hitler liked alsatians because ...
Read More

Picture of 10 sedated lions

This picture of 10 sedated lions was taken by a drone in my opinion. They are ten of twenty-four selected ...
Read More

Do lions eat elephants?

Yes, lions eat the occasional young elephant if the opportunity arises. There is no shortage of images of lions attacking ...
Read More

Picture of two white lions snoozing on the road

Lion pride, including 2 white lions, asleep on the road in Kruger NP ...
Read More

Lionesses live 50% longer than males in the wild

An interesting study by scientists at University Lyon 1 and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded ...
Read More

The poorly regulated captive big cat industry in South Africa

The captive big cat industry in South Africa is said to be poorly regulated, resulting in untimely deaths in attacks ...
Read More
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

Recent Posts

5000 cats, dogs and other animals die in shipping boxes

There will be no pictures (there are pictures but I won't publish them) and before…

1 hour ago

Amazing video: cat copies her owner’s complex movements

Although we know that cats can be trained to do things, in this video you…

2 hours ago

Pet savings account to pay for self-insurance

A designated pet savings account at your bank is a good way to manage self-insurance…

3 hours ago

How to better protect your companion animal on your death

In the immediate aftermath of your perhaps untimely and unforeseen death, you would like your…

7 hours ago

Are packing peanuts safe for cats?

It is difficult to provide a straightforward answer to the question in the title. However,…

11 hours ago

Do cats’ paws fall asleep?

In other words, do cats get pins-and-needles in their feet? We don't know the answer…

12 hours ago