Epic Battles: Does a Kangaroo Stand a Chance Against a Lion in a Fight?

Written by Chanel Coetzee
Updated: May 11, 2023
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African lions primarily occur in sub-Saharan Africa. However, they used to inhabit the entire continent, but their numbers severely declined in North Africa, and they are close to extinction in West Africa. Lions need to live near large water sources, so they tend to stay in grasslands and savannahs. Males are in charge and protect the pride, while females tend to the cubs and do most of the hunting.

Kangaroos have powerful legs designed for jumping, but they also use them in combat. Additionally, they have massive feet and sturdy tails, which they use for balance and support. These marsupials belong to the family Macropodidae, meaning “large foot.”

This article will weigh all the strengths and weaknesses of a lion and a kangaroo and determine if a kangaroo stands a chance against a lion in a fight.

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Comparing a Lion and a Kangaroo

Muscular male kangaroo
A muscular male kangaroo.

©Katarina Christenson/Shutterstock.com

SizeWeight: 261 to 316 pounds Length: 9 to 10 feet Height: 3.5 to 4 feetWeight: 40 to 200 pounds Height: 3 to 8 feet
Speed and Movement Type– 50 mph
– Run in short bursts
–  36 feet leap
– 35 mph
– can hop 10 feet vertically, 40 feet horizontally
Defenses– Massive size
– Speed
–Tawny coloring helps them to camouflage into their environment
–Sharp claws and teeth  
– Powerful kick
– Large size
– Boxes with front paws  
Offensive Capabilities650 PSI bite power
– 30 teeth
– 2.6-inch canine teeth
– 1.5-inch claws
– Strong jaws that allow lions to hold onto and suffocate prey
– Incredible strength that helps them overpower prey
– 900 PSI bite power
– Uses the longest claw on its hindlegs to cut or disembowel its enemy
– Uses forelegs to box  
Predatory Behavior– Stalk their prey
– Tries to knock over or suffocate their prey
– Hunts in a pride
– Not predatory due to being herbivores
– Will defend itself when under threat

What Are the Key Differences Between a Lion and a Kangaroo?

The major difference between lions and kangaroos is that lions are carnivores, and kangaroos are herbivores. Therefore, the lion has one vicious trait that the marsupial from Downunder doesn’t, predatory behavior. However, this does not mean that kangaroos are not dangerous; they are extremely powerful animals that won’t hesitate to defend themselves if threatened. They use their muscular tails as a third leg to balance while delivering a painful, sometimes knockout kick, with their strong hind legs. On the other hand, lions use their brute force to bring down their prey and sharp teeth and claws to finish the job. Males also have a thick mane to protect their necks while fighting other males over territory.

Just because the kangaroo is a herbivore doesn’t mean it won’t stand a chance against a lion in a fight. In fact, they are worthy competitors and might surprise you.

What Are the Key Factors in a Fight Between a Lion and a Kangaroo?

There are many factors to consider when determining who would win in a fight, a lion or a kangaroo. So, we must look at five characteristics to decide which animal will come out on top. We can only make a decision about which specie has the advantage after looking at all the data.

Lion vs. Kangaroo: Size

If asked if a lion would beat a kangaroo in a fight, most people would say yes because of the big cat’s reputation. But the kangaroo is surprisingly strong and resilient, so it is really a difficult question to answer. For example, their weights are very similar; lions weigh between 261 and 316 pounds, while kangaroos weigh between 40 to 200 pounds (the males are heavier than females). Additionally, the latter grows to around 8 feet tall, while the lion measures around 4 feet tall. So, when it comes to size, the lion weighs more, but the kangaroo is taller. However, the lion comes out on top for size.

Lion vs. Kangaroo: Speed and Movement

When it comes to speed and movement, both animals have impressive qualities. Lions can run 50 mph, but they can’t maintain this speed for very long without overheating. Additionally, they can leap an impressive 36 feet. Kangaroos aren’t too far behind; they can run 35 mph but have more stamina than the king of the jungle because they can maintain this speed for 1.5 miles. Furthermore, they can hop 40 feet horizontally and 10 feet vertically. So, for this round, the kangaroo comes out on top.

Lion vs. Kangaroo: Defenses

Both these animals have no problem defending themselves; they are each gifted with several defense mechanisms that equip them to win a fight. For example, the lion’s massive size, speed, claws, and teeth, make it a killing machine. In addition, their tawny coloring helps them camouflage against the background of the savannah and plains. Furthermore, male lions must defend their territories against younger males looking to take over their prides.

Kangaroos use their muscular arms to strike any opponent looking for trouble, and if that doesn’t work, they use their strong tails as a third leg, and with their hind legs, they deliver a powerful kick. Additionally, they have three sharp claws on their hind feet; they use the longest of the three claws to cut or disembowel potential threats. Lastly, their large size is a major deterrent. Only the bravest animal will take on this giant. The lion wins the defense round because it’s always defending not only itself but a whole pride from all sorts of African animals and other lions.

Lion vs. Kangaroo: Offensive Capabilities

The lion has 30 teeth with 2.6-inch canines, combined with a bite force of 650 PSI; you have one dangerous animal. Not to mention their 1.5-inch sharp claws that can slash through the skin like a hot knife through butter. In addition, they have strong jaws that can latch onto and suffocate their prey in seconds. But first, they must use their brute strength to overpower their opponent.

This might surprise you, but the kangaroo has a 900 PSI bite power, much stronger than a lion. However, they do not have any canines, as they are herbivores. But they do have three sharp claws on their feet, and they use the longest one to cut or disembowel their competition. Additionally, they can deliver a bone-shattering kick with 759 pounds of force.

Therefore, the kangaroo wins the offensive capabilities round.

Lion vs. Kangaroo: Predatory Behavior

The lion will sneak up on their prey when hunting alone; they must get as close as possible before going in for the kill. However, when they hunt in groups (prides), they tend to surround their prey so they can’t escape. In fact, these big cats are incredibly intelligent hunters, as they can alter their strategies based on which animals they are hunting or the surrounding conditions. Lions typically rely on stealth during hunting. Their prey is usually faster than them and has more stamina. Therefore, they need to get as close as they can before they lunge.

These big cats are so heavy and large that they can’t maintain their speed for too long. For example, they become exhausted after running around 300 feet and must stop to rest. So, if they don’t get close enough, chances are their hunt will end in defeat. But their size is not always a disadvantage; it helps them take down prey much larger than any other African big cat.

Kangaroos don’t have any predatory behavior because they are herbivores. But they do fight for dominance. For example, the male’s body proportion changes as they mature, resulting in muscular arms, huge shoulders, and sharp nails. All these features are necessary for male-to-male combat. While fighting, they use their massive feet to kick, sharp claws to scratch, and bulky arms to punch and wrestle for dominance. Since kangaroos have a hierarchy, fighting from a young age prepares them for adulthood and finding their place in the pecking order. When serious fights occur, males can sustain severe injuries like torn ears, deep scars, and broken bones. Unfortunately, sometimes these fights are deadly. While this is all very impressive, lions win this category because they actually display predatory behavior.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Lion and a Kangaroo?

So, if a lion and kangaroo fight, the lion will win. The lion is a stealthy hunter who can sneak up on the kangaroo and pounce before the marsupial knows what’s happening. Additionally, lions are intelligent hunters and will adapt their strategy depending on the circumstances. Once they have their claws in the kangaroo, it’s game over, as they can use their sharp, 1.5-inch canines to pierce its throat and their powerful jaws to suffocate it.

There is a chance the lion’s sneak attack doesn’t work, and the kangaroo has time to react. In this scenario, the kangaroo can try to fight off the lion with their powerful kick, which could injure or even kill the lion. But because lions hunt in groups, there is always a cavalry, and there is no way a kangaroo can survive an attack by several lions. So, while the battle may seem evenly matched, the lion still has the upper hand.

What Animal Can Take a Lion Down?

People often refer to the lion as the king of the jungle, but this is not true. They actually live on open plains and savannahs. The real king of the jungle is the Bengal tiger, and his big cat is one of the only predators that can actually take a lion in a fight.

The Bengal tiger is significantly larger than the African lion, with males weighing a whopping 485 pounds and females tipping the scales at 267 pounds. Additionally, tigers are bigger than lions, as they measure around 10 feet long.

Tigers can bite with a force of 1050 PSI and can jump 16 feet high. They are also faster than the African lion and can run 40 mph. Lastly, and most importantly, tigers swipe with a force of 10,000 pounds! So, while lions are pretty powerful cats, the tiger outcompetes them in every aspect and will definitely win in a fight.

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About the Author

I am a 33-year-old creative and professional writer from South Africa. Wildlife is one of my greatest passions and led me to become the writer I am today. I was very blessed to work with an abundance of wildlife (mainly big cats) and captured my unique experiences in writing. But I wanted to take it further, and I ventured into the freelancing world. Now, I get to spend my days writing about animals; what could be better?

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Who would win in a fight between a lion and a kangaroo?

If a lion and kangaroo fight, the lion will win. The lion is a stealthy hunter who can sneak up on the kangaroo and pounce before the marsupial knows what’s happening.

Are kangaroos dangerous?

Kangaroos are very dangerous and can kill a human with on bone-shattering kick.

What animal could take down a lion?

Tigers can bite with a force of 1050 PSI and can jump 16 feet high. They are also faster than the African lion and can run 40 mph. Lastly, and most importantly, tigers swipe with a force of 10,000 pounds! So, while lions are pretty powerful cats, the tiger outcompetes them in every aspect and will definitely win in a fight.

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