cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal and the most unique and specialized member of the cat family. It can reach speeds of 70 mph. Unlike other cats, the cheetah has a leaner body, longer legs, and has been referred to as the “greyhound” of the cats. It is not an aggressive animal, using flight versus fight. With its weak jaws and small teeth, the price it paid for speed, it cannot fight larger predators to protect it’s kills or young.
The cheetah is often mistaken for a leopard. It’s distinguishing marks are the long tear-drop shaped lines on each side of the nose from the corner of it’s eyes to it’s mouth. The cheetah’s coat is tan, or buff colored, with black spots measuring from ¾ to 1 ¼ inches across. There are no spots on it’s white belly, and the tail has spots which merge to form four to six dark rings at the end.
The tail usually ends in a bushy white tuft. Male cheetahs are slightly larger than females and have a slightly bigger head, but it is difficult to tell males and females apart by appearance alone. The cheetah is a vulnerable species. Out of all the big cats, it is the least able to adapt to new environments. They have always proved difficult to breed in captivity, but recently a few zoos have been successful. Once widely shot for its fur, the cheetah now suffers more from the loss of both habitat and prey.
Cheetah – ACINONYX JUBATUS
Head and body-4.3-4.9 ft
Tail-2 to 2.5 ft.
Female solitary; male lives in small groups
Gazelles and other antelope; also hares, rodents, gamebirds and sometimes larger prey such as the zebra.
Up to 12 years in the wild, longer in captivity
Throughout the year
Up to 8, but usually 2 to 5 cubs
The cheetah is the most primitive of all cats, evolving approximately 18 million years ago.
The cheetah has a tall, slim, long-legged build. It has a yellowish-brown coat with darkbrown spots and a long white-tipped tail. The cheetah’s spots help to camouflage it in its environment.
The cheetah has no natural enemies. The cheetah’s paws have only semi-retractable claws, the only of its type amongst the species of cat, and offer the cat extra grip in its high-speed pursuits.
A fully grown cheetah can reach speeds in excess of 60 mph.
Cheetahs like to live in the open area. Because of their liking for that, they usually are found in the grasslands, desert-like plains, savannahs, and like areas that have tall grass. These are the reasons because they usually are found in some places in Africa. Before, they were found in some parts of India and all over Africa, but now only maybe 20-30% of Africa. Ithunts mainly by day. It follows its prey from a distance. It selects old, injured or young animals whose speed will be impaired.The cheetah can be found in open grassland and nearby forests in all parts of Africa, the Middle East, and south-central Asia.
The cheetah’s favourite prey is the gazelle. It also preys on the impala and the antelope, and other grazing animals.
Cheetah are usually carnivores although they might sometimes might eat fruit like watermelon. The medium size animals they eat include:antelope, fawns, gazelle, deer,etc. The smaller animals they eat are, rabbitts, birds, hares, frogs, etc. As I said before they are known to eat fruit like watermelon. Also, their diet includes lizards and eggs.
The cheetah can live anywhere from 10-15 years in the wild.
Future of the Cheetah:
The cheetah is an endangered species. Its habitat is being destroyed by humans and there is also the problem of poachers. Zoos and federal parks provide many cheetahs with a haven where the survival of its species can be assured. Governmental laws have also been implemented to protect the cheetah.
Cheetahs are mostly found in South and East Africa, the Middle East, and Southern Asia.
There are 5 subspecies of cheetah in the genus Acinonyx: four in Africa and one in Iran. The endangered subspecies, Acinonyx jubatus venatiecus lives in Asia.
Some Interesting Cheetah Facts:
Female Cheetahs have been known to catch live prey for their cubs to use as hunting practice.
The Cheetah was trained by man for hunting as long as 3000 BC
Cheetahs were once raced against greyhounds
The Cheetah makes facial expressions, using the bold black lines around its muzzle to signal its mood.
From a standstill, the cheetah can reach its top speed in about 3 seconds, and can cover almost 33 inches in a single stride.
Fastest land mammal on Earth; over short distances it can reach a speed of over 60 mph
Cheetah cubs are born with long, grey fur. Some naturalists think that this mimics the ratel, a fierce relative of the badger that few animals dare attack
Cheetahs don’t need to drink water, as they get the moisture they need from the bodies of their prey.
Cheetahs are the only cats that, while sprinting, can turn in midair to follow their prey.
Cheetah cubs have a long mane on their neck and shoulders that disappears as they get older.
Cheetahs can accelerate to freeway speeds in just a few strides!