Height: 4 feet at shoulder
Length: 9 feet *Sabre teeth 8.5 - 10 inches
Weight: 400-600 pounds
- Male: Pelt varies between sandy to rusty brown with a lighter underbelly. Often the pelt is decorated with darker brown spots, rosettes or stripes. Mane varies from brown to black.
- Female and juvenile (both sexes): Same as male, although lacking the mane.
Preferred Habitat: Open, grassy plains.
Diet: Meat. Smilodon is a hunter of large mammalian prey.
Social Structure: Similarly to lions, Smilodon live in prides. One or two males, sometimes even up to four (usually brothers) dominate over several females and their cubs. The males guard their territory from rival males (males which are without prides are known as rogues) by roaring and patrolling their territory; scent-marking trees, bushes and rocks by spraying urine. Females (usually sisters, offspring and kin) tend to remain in the pride all their lives. Males born into a pride are usually driven away by the dominant male when they reach adulthood, so they can leave and claim their own prides elsewhere. Doing so prevents competition and inbreeding within a pride.
Smilodon is a large cat with immensely powerful arms and shoulders; a relatively short back and a short, stubby tail. Males are larger and more muscular than the females and also have a mane around the neck and shoulder region, as well as a "ruff" of longer hairs around the cheeks which adds protection during fights with other male Smilodon over territory.
Smilodon is most famous for its sabre-like canine teeth, which gives it its alternative name of sabre-toothed cat. These teeth can reach 21cm (8.5 in), (10 inches in some larger individuals) and are actually rather fragile and could snap easily when they come into contact with bone.
As with lions, it is the female Smilodon who do the hunting together while the males defend the territory. Also like lions, when a new male takes over a pride, he will not waste time guarding the previous male’s cubs - he will kill them and in doing so will cause the females to come back into estrus.
Smilodon pulls its prey to the ground with its powerful front limbs, and then when the prey is firmly pinned, the teeth will come into play; sinking into the prey’s throat and ripping it out. When feeding, Smilodon avoids bone and eats carefully, choosing the softest areas of the carcass to feed from, such as the stomach region. This means that when the Smilodon pride leave the carcass, there is still plenty of meat left for scavengers.