Would lions eat clams?
July 12, 2020 10:50 AM   Subscribe

If you gave a lion a clam, would the lion attempt to eat it? Would they be able to eat it? Would they like it? Assume that the clam is still in the shell.

As you may have already surmised, this is a very-not-urgent question that grows out of idle silly joking between my spouse and me.
posted by brainwane to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I would hypothesize that a lion would not try to open a clam in a shell unless it was starving.

I also assume that the lion would have the jaw strength to crush the clam shell but at that point would spit it out not because of the taste but because of the shell shattered in its mouth.
posted by terrapin at 11:17 AM on July 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

My cat will eagerly lick the shells of clams and mussels, so the lion might also enjoy the salty flavor and scent.
posted by janell at 11:23 AM on July 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

I think a lion would find it appealing and would eat it to the best of its ability, making funny faces as it tried to maneuver bits of shell out of its mouth. Source: My dog vs. a whole egg in the shell.
posted by HotToddy at 11:45 AM on July 12, 2020 [12 favorites]

Here’s a a couple lions trying and failing to figure out how to eat a tortoise (who’s hiding in his shell).
posted by sallybrown at 11:49 AM on July 12, 2020 [7 favorites]

They would probably be able to smell that it was edible inside, and lions can crack smaller bones open with their teeth to get at the marrow, so they would likely know how to go about getting in there. They have also been known to eat fish when available, though it's not part of their normal diet.

Whether they would bother after the first one, I don't know. It probably wouldn't be super pleasant to have a clam shell shatter in your mouth. But I definitely think the lion would get to at least that point before giving up.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:50 AM on July 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

Anecdotally, I have had one dog look at me like I was crazy when I tried to feed him a raw mussel, and another that gobbled it right up. Just as a data point of large predators and shellfish.
posted by Grandysaur at 12:41 PM on July 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

They're more omnivorous in general, but apparently grizzly bears eat clams.

Lions...I don't know. Many animals won't try to eat something if it's unfamiliar, which is possibly evolutionarily advantageous, given that unfamiliar food sources might not be safe.
posted by LadyOscar at 7:39 PM on July 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

I am not an expert on lions, but I have been told that they are rather lazy, compared to other big predators. Bears and wolves and hyenas will eat anything and everything, but lions prefer eating wild game in very big portions and then relaxing a lot as they digest.
posted by mumimor at 10:56 PM on July 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: >Lions on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast have adapted to prey on seabirds and seals:

“The first time lions were recorded feeding on marine life since returning to the desert was in 2006, where lionesses were observed eating a seal. Then, in 2017, a lioness in poor condition was spotted hunting cormorants, while others were seen hunting flamingos and teals. Stander said he has observed lions foraging in intertidal areas, so it is possible their diet could expand to other marine life such as shellfish, crabs and sea turtles.”

From a quick google, Namibia is known for its oysters and mussels, so perhaps it has clams too?
posted by Bwithh at 4:01 PM on July 18, 2020

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