Lion vs Crocodile: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: February 1, 2022
© iStock.com/Gunther Fraulob
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Lions are powerful mammals known as the King of the Jungle, and they successfully hunt creatures that are much larger than them. However, what happens when they meet a fully grown crocodile, the apex predators of the Nile River and many other parts of Africa? We’ll show you the outcome of a lion vs crocodile fight by giving you keen insights into their physical characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. Take a look at which of these creatures walks away the winner from a dire battle!

Comparing a Lion and a Crocodile

A battle of lions and crocodiles pits a ferocious big cat against the world’s largest reptile.

©A-Z-Animals.com

LionCrocodile
SizeWeight: 264lbs – 550lbs
Length: 4.7ft – 8.2ft
Height: 3ft-4ft
Weight: 300-2,000lbs
Length: 10ft – 20ft
Speed and Movement Type-35 mph (closing speed of 50mph for very short bursts)
-Sprints to enemies with a galloping gait.
– 22 mph on land (short bursts)
– Very fast crawling motion
– 15mph in water propelled by its tail
Bite Power and Teeth650-1000 PSI bite power
-30 teeth including up to four
– 4-inch canines
3,700PSI bite power
– 4-inch teeth
– 66 teeth
Senses-Amazing sense of sight, especially night vision.
-Good sense of smell capable of smelling other lions’ markings.
-Great hearing allows them to hear prey miles away.
– Great nocturnal vision and underwater vision
– Pressure receptors help crocodiles identify changes around them
Defenses– Stays with pride for safety in numbers
– Large size
– Can quickly run away from enemies
– Tough skin
– Ability to travel on land and water
– Speed
Offensive Capabilities– Sharp claws can gash foes
– Paw strikes can deliver a powerful, staggering blow  
– Strong biting power can splinter bones and tear prey open.
– Incredibly powerful bite
– Death roll can instantly remove large chunks of flesh.
Predatory Behavior– Primarily stalks and pounces on the opponent
– Can act as an endurance predator
– Uses groups to take down prey
– Ambush predators that wait in the water for prey to approach.

The Key Factors in a Fight Between a Lion and a Crocodile

The winner needs to have better physical attributes and fighting abilities.

©iStock.com/Gumpanat

Considering all the elements of lions and crocodiles is not necessary to identify the outcome of this fight. Instead, we have come up with a list of key factors that would be significant and potentially alter the fight. Specifically, the physical elements of the two creatures as well as the combat abilities of each would play the biggest role in determining the contestant that survives.  

Physical Features of a Lion and a Crocodile

animals that eat their young: lion
Lions are powerful cats that can weigh up to 500lbs

©iStock.com/MaggyMeyer

Lions and crocodiles are very different, with one being a terrestrial cat creature and the other being an aquatic reptile. Nevertheless, examining five elements of their bodies will help us determine what one has the most advantages over the other from the physical standpoint. Take a look at each!

Lion vs Crocodile: Size

A lion is a large mammal that can weigh over 500lbs, stand 4ft tall, and grow 8 feet long. The largest lion ever captured in the wild weighed in at 675 pounds (captive lions have tipped the scales at up to 827 pounds). These animals are all muscle and fury. The largest crocodiles can weigh over 2,000lbs and grow over 20ft in length.

Crocodiles are much larger than lions and they have the advantage here.

Lion vs Crocodile: Speed and Movement

Lions are swift creatures that can run upwards of 50 mph for short bursts while running 35 mph at a typical sprint. That is much faster than a crocodile can manage; they can run 22mph over very short distances. However, lions are not fast swimmers. Crocodiles can reach 15mph in the water!

Lions have the overall speed and movement advantage.  

Lion vs Crocodile: Bite Power and Teeth

Lions have a strong bite at around 1,000 PSI, and their long teeth can help them clamp down and rip open their foes. Crocodiles are even better at biting. In fact, they have the strongest measured bite of any animal in the world at 3,700 PSI. Their teeth are long and conical, perfect for breaking bones and dismembering enemies.

Crocodiles have a major advantage in terms of bite power and teeth.  

Lion vs Crocodile: Senses

Like other great hunters, lions have an amazing sense of vision that is wonderful in low-light settings. They can smell well enough to notice other creatures from a distance and can hear prey from miles off. Crocodiles have good nighttime vision and can even see well underwater. Crocodiles can also sense changes in pressure, allowing them to quickly identify changes and kill prey.

All in all, lions have better senses than crocodiles, so they get the advantage here.

Lion vs Crocodile: Physical Defenses

The physical defenses of a lion are based on speed and size. Few other animals will attack them outright, especially if they are with their pride, a group of lions. Crocodiles also have good defenses with their tough skin and the safety of their murky habitat protecting them.

All in all, an individual crocodile has better defenses than a lion.

Combat Skills of a Lion and a Crocodile

A Nile Crocodile seen on a safari in South Africa
Crocodiles bite and implement a “death roll” to dismember their foes.

©Rudi Hulshof/Shutterstock.com

Lions hunt in small groups or solo, and they tend to maintain the same combat style. They will harry their prey with bites and clawing to exhaust the enemy and then move in for the kill. Otherwise, they will ambush a creature and completely overwhelm it with brute force and a killer bite to the throat.

Crocodiles are also ambush predators that will wait for prey, snatch a piece of it with their teeth, and then tear it off. Sometimes, they will instantly kill enemies by biting their heads and breaking their skulls.

Both creatures have very potent yet similar combat skills.  

What Are Key Differences Between a Lion and a Crocodile?

lion face
Lions are faster but smaller than crocodiles.

©iStock.com/SKapl

Lions are mammals and crocodiles are reptiles. Crocodiles are larger and heavier than lions. Lions and crocodiles are both apex predators that hunt other animals using ambush tactics. However, lions are faster than crocodiles on land. Crocodiles are obviously faster than lions in the water.

Lions will often hunt with a pack of others, but crocodiles hunt alone even though they may live in an area that is rife with other crocodiles. These differences, along with obvious morphological ones, separate these two animals.

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

A crocodile would beat a lion in a fight.

©iStock.com/USO

Although the lion has a lot of advantages over the crocodile in terms of a fight, the crocodile would win in a fight against a lion. The crocodile is simply too large and powerful for the lion to defeat. If the crocodile was able to ambush a lion that was drinking out water from a river, then the fight would be over immediately. The crocodile would drag the lion under and easily kill it.

However, if the crocodile and lion met on land, a more ferocious battle would ensue. If the lion was smart enough to attack and bite the crocodile and make it bleed from a bunch of different wounds, it might have a chance. That’s not likely to happen, though.

The most likely outcome would have the crocodile landing a bite, it doesn’t matter where, and snapping a leg, puncturing the skull, or biting into the soft underside of the lion. Either way, the crocodile swims away with a few scars and a meal.


The Featured Image

lion walking toward camera
lion walking toward camera
© iStock.com/Gunther Fraulob

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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