- Tigers are lions are both from the family of Felidae, but they have some major differences. Lions live in Africa and India, while tigers only live in Asia and Indonesia.
- Male lions can grow 10 feet long, weighing up to 55 pounds; however, there are 3 species of tiger that are even bigger than lions.
- Both tigers and lions are apex predators, which means they are very dangerous in addition to being massive felines.
From Africa to Asia to North America, the world is populated by big cats. Among them are cougars, panthers, leopards, lions, cheetahs, and tigers. But, which big cat is the largest of them all? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think. Both lions and tigers are huge, ferocious apex predators, but, which is bigger? The answer to this question is complicated by the fact that there are nine distinct subspecies of tiger, each a little bigger or smaller than the next. So, which tigers are bigger than lions? Let’s find out!
What’s the Difference Between Lions and Tigers?
Lions and tigers are both big cats in the Felidae family of animals. Initially, they both evolved in Africa, before the ancient ancestor of today’s tigers migrated outwards, to Asia and Indonesia. Today, lions live in Africa and India, while tigers live only in Asia and the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.
Another key difference between lions and tigers is their appearance; tigers are striped orange and black, while lions have unpatterned, tawny coats. Additionally, male lions develop manes, while male tigers do not. Further, their social structures are different; lions live in groups called prides, while tigers are solitary hunters.
How Big are Lions?
To answer the question “which tigers are bigger than lions”, you first need to know just how big lions are. Lions are the second largest big cat in the world. Males can grow up to 10 feet long, and weigh up to 550 pounds. Females can grow to a max length of 9 feet long, and weigh up to 400 pounds.
The Three Tigers Bigger Than Lions
There are nine subspecies of tiger, three of which are extinct. All living tigers are endangered, with some subspecies listed as critically endangered. Today, scientists classify two primary types of tiger: the continental tiger, and the Sunda island tiger. Continental tigers are those that live in continental Asia, while Sunda island tigers are those that live only in the islands of Indonesia.
There are three subspecies of tiger that grow larger than lions, all are subspecies of continental tiger. One of them, the Caspian tiger, has been extinct for more than 50 years.
1. Bengal Tiger
Bengal tigers live in the Indian subcontinent; they can be found in Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. They are likely the most numerous of all wild tigers, thanks to concentrated conservation efforts in recent decades.
Female Bengal tigers grow up to 8.7 feet long, and weigh up to 350 pounds, which makes them slightly smaller than lions. But male Bengal tigers grow up to 10 feet long, and weigh up to 570 pounds, which makes them a little bigger than the largest of male lions.
2. Caspian Tiger (Extinct)
Once found throughout the river valleys of western Asia and the Middle East, the Caspian tiger has been extinct since the 1970s. These tigers succumbed to pressure from humans in the form of loss of prey species, loss of habitat, and overhunting. These tigers relied heavily on populations of wild pig, deer, and mountain sheep. They were closely related to the still extant Siberian tiger.
Male Caspian tigers grew to just over 10 feet long, and weighed up to 550 pounds. This makes them slightly larger than the largest of male lions.
3. Siberian (Amur) Tiger
When answering the question: which tigers are bigger than lions, the Siberian tiger is likely the first subspecies that comes to mind. Siberian tigers once roamed the forests of much of eastern Russia and northeastern China; today they exist only in the Russian Far East. Like many tigers, they’re in danger of extinction – primarily from poaching, habitat loss, and loss of prey species.
Siberian tigers are the largest tigers in the world, they’re also the biggest of all big cats. Female Siberian tigers grow up to 9 feet long, and weigh up to 370 pounds. Male Siberian tigers grow up to 11 feet long, and may weigh over 600 pounds. That makes them bigger than even the largest of lions.
Do Lions and Tigers Ever Fight?
Although we’d all like to know what would happen in the “boss battle” between a large male lion and a large male Siberian tiger—we’ll never know. The reason for this is simple; lions and tigers do not occupy the same habitat, or even range. In fact, they live on separate continents. So, unless a fight were to happen in artificial settings, we’ll never know which would win: a lion, or a tiger.
Which is More Dangerous: a Lion, or a Tiger?
If you’re wondering which tigers are bigger than lions, you’re probably also wondering which big cat is the most dangerous. The answer may surprise you: both. All big cats are apex predators, which means they are the rulers of their territory. You would not want to get on the wrong side of either a tiger or a lion.
Lifespan: Which Lives Longer, Lions or Tigers?
While tigers are bigger, they fall slightly short to the lion when it comes to lifespan. Tigers have an average lifespan of 8-10 years in the wild. It is possible to make it longer, but their lives are challenging due to competing with other tigers for territory and food. In captivity, they may live around 20-26 years. Lions have an average lifespan of 12-18 years in the wild. In captivity, their lifespan is about the same as tigers.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Byrdyak
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- , Available here: https://www.britannica.com/animal/tiger
- , Available here: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/tiger
- , Available here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0207114