How do Lions mate? Do Lions mate with their siblings? Why do Lioness mate with multiple Lions?

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How do lions attract mate?

Lionesses are seen to enter in heat phase many times in a year. Meaning that they will enter into their oestrus phase that will last for about 4 to 7 days with intervals many times in a year.

During their heat phase, it is the time in which her hormones are at a level at which she is able to produce eggs (ovum). It is the time they will mate with potential and dominating male lion.

If she already has many cubs that are less than 2 years of age then she won’t mate, but if she doesn’t have any cubs or all of her cubs are older than 4 years then she will mate to produce more cubs.

In such a case, if there are already males present in the group she will mate with any of them. And as the males and females interact regularly in the lion group, there is no need for lionesses to attract any mate, as she will readily mate with the one already present in the group.

But, if there’s no male to mate in the group and she needs to conceive to produce cubs, then she will definitely try to attract new males to mate with her.

In that case, once she is in her heat phase she will become restless and she will start to mark her territory by urinating and marking it with her flow of urine.

By doing so, she will leave a scent in her urine that will signal the male that she is ready to mate. She tries this more often than usual during this time to mark her territory.


The male lion has his organ of Jacobson to get the scent of the pheromones from the female’s urine. This organ is located at the base of the lion’s nasal cavity.

The lion starts to inhale air through his mouth and his nose to allow the pheromones and other scents in the female lion’s urine to reach his Jacobson’s organ.

This enables him to determine the reproductive status of the female, and if the female is ready to mate by measuring the hormone levels and determine whether or not the female is ready to mate.

If one lion is attracted then she will try to make out if he is a dominating one or not and whether he will be able to protect the female, her pride, and her upcoming cubs. If she thinks he is ok, then she will soon mate with him.

But, if more than one lion gets attracted then there will occur a fight between the males to mate with the female. The winning male will prove himself as the dominating one and will be chosen by the female lioness to mate with her.

That’s how a lioness will attract a lion to mate with her. We will learn more about how they mate, and a lot more. So, just keep reading.

And if you have only enough time to read one book about field biology, this is the one book “The Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator-Prey Relationship by George B. Schaller” that I recommend you to read at least once in your lifetime. This book is the Winner of the 1972 National Book Award and has so much valuable information on lions that will make you very clear about this animal.

How do lions mate?

Here, we are talking about mating, and not about reproduction. There’s a difference between mating and reproduction as a whole.

The difference is that reproduction is a very broad and complex process that involves various biochemical, biophysical, and physical processes for the production of offspring.

Mating is just one of the main physical processes of sexual reproduction when the male will insert his sperms inside the female by sexual intercourse.

Lions can mate non-stop for about 4 to 5 days constantly during the time the female is in her heat phase.

Mating in lions that is a mating between a lion and a lioness is known as a non-stop affair, filled with uneasiness and a bit of violence.

The male will often bite the female on her head or many times at the nape of her neck. In response, you will often see that the female will act by aggressively growling with bared teeth at the male.

Another thing to note is that the phallus (external genitalia) of the lion is somewhat different like that of the other big cats. They have penile spines (also called phallus spines) on their phallus (also called the external genitalia) which is also referred to as barbs on the phallus.

Such a type of phallus is good for stimulating the female to ovulate when during sexual intercourse.

It’s because, upon withdrawal of the male lion’s external genitalia from the female lion’s genital tract, the spines scratch the walls of the female’s genitalia, which may serve as a trigger for ovulation. That’s also why when the male genitalia (phallus) is retracted it hurts the female causing her to lash out at the male.

As the mating ritual continues she will produce eggs. And due to his weak sperm, a male has to mate with a female often enough times during the whole 4 to 5 days of estrous phase to ensure that fertilization (fusion of sperm and egg inside the female’s womb) takes place.

After successful mating and fertilization, cubs are born after an average time period of about 110 days. A female can give birth to up to four cubs at one time.

Do Lions mate with their siblings?

Yes, lions can mate with their siblings either knowingly or unknowingly.

You will see the same dominating male lion mating with most of the lioness in the same group or with a different group. Meaning that a single male lion can mate with different lioness of different groups, as lioness also prefer such matings sometimes.

When the males are mating with different groups it is possible that they may mate with their own biological siblings, cousins, or nieces, or maybe their own mother of course. Such cases of inbreeding are seen.

Often, you will see that females are usually restricted to the one or two adult males of their pride (group) when they are in the wild.

The females will expel their male cubs from the pride when the cubs become sexually mature at the age of about three years. The expelled males will become nomads and will lead pride-free life until they are old and strong enough to try to take over another pride.

It has been also seen that some of the matured female cubs will remain within the pride, while some of the matured female cubs will be forced out of the pride to join other pride or wander as nomads.

One thing to note here is that those sexually matured female cubs that will remain in the pride may mate with their biological father or other potential mates in the very future.

It has been also seen that when the dominant male is killed or driven off by one of the bachelor males, a father may be replaced by his son. So, inbreeding will occur.

In the group (pride), most lionesses are related to one another as siblings, cousins, or nieces.

But, when a lion pride is in captivity like when they are in the zoo, it has been seen more often that mating occurs between siblings, cousins, parents, and offspring as they have no choice left other than mating with each other.

So, Do Lions mate with their siblings? The answer is it depends. As in the wild, fewer cases of inbreeding are seen, but inbreeding does occur in the wild in rare scenarios. And, when in captivity they have no other choice than inbreeding within the same pride.

Why does lioness roll over after mating?

Yes, a majority of the lionesses (female lions) will roll over after mating. It’s because they want to get rid of the pain that is caused due to the withdrawal of the male’s external genitalia from the female’s genital tract.

The male lion’s phallus has barb like projections on it which are also called as the penile spines or phallus spines.

These barbs cause excessive pain to the lioness when the male retracts his phallus out of the female’s genital tract, as the barbs scratch the lining of her muscular genital tract.

This pain not only causes the lioness to roll over, but she can also snarl, bite, aggressively growl, or she can even sometimes turn and bite the male in his lower region to withdraw his external genitalia (phallus).

Most pains are seen to occur in virgin females who are mating for the first time. They turn more violent due to the excessive pain occurring in their genital tract. They are often seen to roll over many times after mating.

Another reason why they roll over for several minutes soon after mating is because of the high alternation of the hormones occurring in their body in response to ovulation.

She will also roll over and lick in those regions where the male has touched her. That’s a kind of behaviour done for removing the scent off her body in preparation for the next mating session.

How many times do lions mate in a day?

Lions can mate over 100 times in a day. On average, a lion couple can mate at every 15 to 30 minutes interval, with at least up to 50 copulations per 24 hours.

A single mating can happen for a small time period, that is a single mating session can last for not more than a minute. They can keep this up for around four to 4 to 5 days.

Meaning that if the couple mates for at least 50 times in a day then they will have mated for at least 200 to 250 times within a period of 4 to 5 days time span.

Both leopards and lions have exactly the same mating rituals. That is on average they mate after every 15 to 30 minutes for up to 4 to 5 days. That’s how many times they do mate.

There’s a big difference in how many times they mate to breed their cubs. In general, when in captivity, lions often breed every year, but in the wild, they usually breed no more than once in two years.

In the wild, there isn’t any specific mating season for the lions. As when another dominating male enters the pride by killing the former male, he will then kill the cubs of that male. Then the females of that pride are forced to mate with him to produce new cubs.

It has been also seen that when there is plenty of food to eat, mating is much more likely to happen.

Both the females and males are ready for mating when they are about 4 to 5 years of age. They can stay alive and can mate till the age of 8 or 10 in the wild, or till the maximum age of 25 when they are in captivity.

Why do lioness mate with multiple lions?

Yes, it has been seen that lioness mate with multiple lions. Most probably, the same lioness can mate with multiple lions of the same pride.

And, it is very rare to see any lioness from a pride mating with the males from another pride, but such an act happens.

In the way, you can say, when the lioness mates with another pride’s male than she is possibly cheating on the alpha male of her own pride. And so, the results can be sometimes deadly for her and she may also be killed by the alpha male.

In a pride, there lives a few females along with one or two or three males. Amongst the different males, there’s only one alpha male who always gets his hands to mate with all of the females.

But, when the alpha male gets tired after his mating session, then the other lesser males can get their chance to mate with the females of the same pride.

So, it can be seen that the females can mate with different males of the same pride. Most probably females will mate with the alpha mate and if he gets tired the lesser ones can mate with the females.

It has been also been seen that, at the same time, many females of the same pride enter into their Oestrous phase and want to mate. But since there’s only an alpha male, he can’t mate with all of the females at once so, during that time other lesser males of the same pride also get their chance to mate.

Now, What’s the benefit when a single lioness mates with different lions?

It has been seen that the Lioness that mated with two different males achieved a significantly higher egg-hatching and fast fertilization success than those Lionesses that have mated twice with the same male.

Having multiple mating partners will also increase the offspring (cubs) chances of better survival and better adaptation to existing the various environmental and social circumstances due to great genetic variability.

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