When we think of animals that eat grass, we never picture lions. These big cats are known for their meat-eating habits, and eating grass is not something that we associate them with.
But in case you are looking for the answer if lions eat plants? Or, to be more exact, do lions eat grass?
Here is the quick answer:
Yes, lions do eat grass, yet, the grass is not consumed as a normal part of the diet. Instead, lions eat grass because it helps them settle an upset stomach. Another reason why they eat grass is that grass is a natural source of minerals, vitamins, and fiber, which supports their health and helps them with the digestive process.
Do Lions Eat Grass?
Lions do eat grass, even though it seems strange and unnatural, but they do nibble grass from time to time.
In fact, it is a common behavior among all felines members. Besides lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, domestic cats will also sometimes chew on grass.
Still, none of the felines will eat grass because they enjoy the taste of the grass or because the grass is a part of their normal diet.
In other words, lions will use grass as some sort of ‘primitive’ stomach medicine in variations situations.
Let’s see on which occasions would lions eat grass and what health benefits do they get.
Related Article: What Animals Eat Lions?
Why Do Lions Eat Grass?
In short, lions eat grass because it comes as an evolutionary instinct that benefits their health. The same reason we eat spinach or kale – it supports our health.
However, here are the main reasons why lions eat grass:
Lions are carnivores, and due to their strict meat-eating habits, they need a source of fiber (found in the grass) that helps them with the displacement of stomach acid.
Also, eating grass will help lions expel items that are not digestible. For example, some fur remnants are swallowed after self-grooming. Or feathers and other different indigestible parts from eating different prey.
Lions will also munch on grass when lacking a source of vitamin B9 (folic acid), which they may not be getting elsewhere besides from grass.
Lastly, eating small amounts of grass may help lions settle an upset stomach.
How Often Do Lions Eat Grass?
Because lions and other cat members do not have enzymes to break down the grass, they’ll usually vomit shortly after consuming the grass.
Although eating grass may appear unnatural, it is not harmful in any way for lions. In fact, it is beneficial, as we have mentioned earlier.
Felines would eat grass not more than occasionally. Small mouthfuls of grass are generally sufficient to help with any of the above problems lions may have.
Can Lions Survive by Eating Only Grass?
No, lions are obligate carnivores and they can’t survive by eating grass only. In order to survive, they have to eat meat.
Lions primarily feed on large herbivores, and they have to intake between 11 and 16 pounds of meat each day.
Just picture lions grazing 16 pounds of grass every day. If that were the case, lions would be more closely related to the grazing animals and not carnivores.
As we have said earlier, grass may be beneficial for lions in different situations, but the grass is not considered a food source for any lion.
They are not capable of digesting grass, and because of that, the grass actually empties their stomach and not the other way around.
Do Lions Eat Fruit?
Lions usually do not eat fruit. Although, in some rare situations, they have been noted to eat fruit. But those cases are extremely rare.
To put it simply, lions have not evolved into animals that eat fruit and vegetables simply because they do not have enzymes responsible for plant digestion.
Even though they might occasionally chew on some fruits during their lifetime, we can say that fruit is not a part of the lions’ usual diet.
Lions are hyper carnivores which means they mainly eat meat. However, lions would occasionally eat grass as an instinct associated with stomach problems or a lack of vitamins and fiber.
It looks odd, and we would never associate lions with grass, but this plant is vastly important for the digestive functioning of the animal.