All the interesting things about white lions that you may not know – Part 2

1. Learn the characteristics of white lions

This is a rare animal, its image is worshiped and treasured in many countries. However, there is not much information related to this animal. Let’s explore the characteristics of this animal right below!

1.1. Where do white lions live?

Their natural habitat is very diverse, they can live in steppes, deserts or remote areas. But mainly in the Sahara desert region of Africa. Because the Sahara desert is a harsh environment with little humidity, this helped them develop the ability to hunt and endure the harsh climate of this area. In addition, white lions also have the ability to avoid being hunted by other enemies in this vast desert land.

White lions live mainly in the Sahara desert of Africa

White lions live mainly in the Sahara desert in Africa (Photo: Collected)

1.2. External shape

Like most common lions, male and female white lions are about 1.2 meters tall. In terms of length, males will be slightly longer than females. A male can average 3 meters long while a female is only about 1.8 meters long. Because of such a difference in length, the weight of males is also greater, about 240 – 260 kg, while the weight of females is only about 180 – 200 kg.

Unlike other animals with albinism due to lack of pigment, the eyes and nose will be pink. Although the lion’s fur is white, it has yellow or blue eyes and the nose, eye rims, and behind the ears are all black. In addition, the male’s tail and mane may have a yellow color.

1.3. What do white lions eat?

They are carnivorous and often hunt herbivores such as antelopes, zebras, buffalo, hares and turtles. They have divine teeth and “nails” that can easily attack and kill their prey.

They are animals that need to eat every day, but can still live up to 4 days without drinking water. The lion’s favorite menu depends on the land it lives in. For example, in Serengeti National Park, wildebeest, Thomson’s gazelle and zebra are the most commonly hunted prey.

The main food of blue-eyed white lions is herbivores

The main food of blue-eyed white lions is herbivores (Photo: Collected)

1.4. Hunting behavior

White lions are animals with superior hunting skills. With the ability to hunt decisively and cleverly, they often quietly and stealthily follow their prey and pounce on it without losing too much energy. They will often hunt in groups to be able to harvest large prey.

If they only live alone, white lions will choose prey smaller than them such as antelopes, chamois, rabbits, and pigs for food. In addition, if they live near the sea, seals also become one of their favorite dishes.

Normally, right after catching its prey, white lions will eat it immediately. If there is an abundant amount of food, they will hunt every 3-4 days. Every day they consume about 5-7 kg of meat. In some difficult situations lacking food, they are willing to eat the rotten food of other animals. But they are capable of living without food for up to a week.

1.5. Longevity

The average lifespan of a white lion living in the wild is about 7 – 10 years. Captive lions have a longer lifespan of up to 15 years. Usually when male lions become adults (3-4 years old), they will have the characteristic of wanting to challenge and want to replace males in another herd.

Fights between male lions cause many of them to die, so male lions rarely live beyond 10 years old. In addition, more than 80% of lions will die before they are 2 years old.

White lion's white fur and sharp eyes

Close-up photo of clear white fur and sharp eyes (UK: Collected)

1.6. Genetic

Genetically, white lions are similar to lions in southern Africa. They are found in animal parks around the world and especially wildlife reserves in South Africa.

This animal has defective pigment cells, not albinism. The cause of melanocyte defects is a recessive mutation in the Tyrosinase gene – an enzyme capable of producing melanin. Typically, they have blue, grey-blue, green or brown eye pigmentation that can be seen with the naked eye. The existence of blue-eyed white lions exists and is selective.

1.7. Social behavior (herd behavior)

A herd of white lions is often recorded as having 10 lions, and there are individual herds of up to 20 lions. Each herd will have 2 – 4 males, the rest are female lions and cubs. After about 2 – 3 years of life, lion cubs mature and begin to separate from the herd.

Most of the lions in the herd are related by blood, so their relationships are very close and stable. They especially do not receive and welcome the entry of lions from other prides. The number of individuals in a herd is only affected by births and deaths or when an animal separates from the herd.

Some children choose a nomadic lifestyle, living alone or in pairs. The above situation can end when it finds a suitable pride of lions that accepts it to join. It is a fact that lions living in groups have a hostile relationship with those living alone even though they have nothing to do with each other.

White lions often live alone and hunt in groups

White lions often live alone and hunt in groups (Photo: Collected)

1.8. Reproductive behavior

The reproductive characteristics of white lions are similar to yellow lions. The age of maturity for them to start mating is when they are 3 – 4 years old. Currently, most lion cubs are born through cross-breeding and are kept in captivity, they do not reproduce naturally. Therefore, the number of matings increases many times a year. However, normally each litter of lion mothers only gives birth to 2-4 cubs and they will be temporarily blind after birth.

Just like golden lions, female lions in the same pride are highly likely to give birth at the same time and will raise their cubs together. This is also an advantage when lion cubs can drink more milk from other lion mothers. In addition, giving birth together also makes it easier for lions to manage the number of offspring. Male lions do not directly raise their cubs but will always protect them from potential dangers.

1.9. Decoding the skin color of white lions

As analyzed, their white fur is not caused by albinism but by leucistic syndrome. This is hypopigmentation syndrome, also a rare genetic mutation in biological pigmentation. This causes a lack of pigmentation, especially melanin (an important pigment found in the eyes, fur, hair and skin). Specifically, their condition is due to a partial or complete lack of melanocytes.

Studies have proven that white lions’ white fur is not their disadvantage. Furthermore, it also has the effect of camouflage and helps them become leaders in the food chain where they live.

The white fur color in white lions is due to a rare genetic mutation in biological pigmentation

The white fur color in white lions is due to a rare genetic mutation in biological pigments (Photo: Collected)

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