The interesting life of a Cheetah
Cheetahs are the fastest land animal in the world. They can reach a top speed of 72 mph (116 km/h). This makes them the perfect predators for their prey.
Cheetahs are carnivores. They eat mostly antelope, gazelle, and zebras. They hunt these animals by either chasing them down or stalking them. Cheetahs have a retractable claw on each paw that they use to grasp their prey and pull it into a tight kill hold before killing it with a bite to the neck or throat.
Quick Facts of the Cheetah & Its Survival in the Wild
The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal and the only member of the big cat family to have a tail.
The cheetah is a small, slender, spotted cat with long legs and a long, thin tail. It has small rounded ears and a short tufted tail. The spots on their body are smaller than those of other big cats and they have black spots on their face. The cheetah has large, round eyes that give it excellent night vision.
Cheetahs are found in sub-Saharan Africa in dry savannahs and deserts as well as grasslands near forests or wetlands. They are active primarily at dawn and dusk when they use their speed to hunt gazelles, antelopes, zebras, wildebeest calves, and other herbivores. Cheetahs are strong swimmers and have a swimming tail, though they rarely use it to aid in locomotion.
The cheetah is the fastest land animal in open terrain, able to reach speeds of up to 112 kilometers per hour (70 mph). It is the second-fastest land animal after the greyhound and can accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) in under three seconds. When hunting, the cheetah bounds at its prey until it is within 10 meters (33 ft) and pounces to kill it. It may then drag the carcass 30 to 50 meters (98–160 ft). After a large kill, the cat eats only the choicest parts.
The cheetah is a big cat (family Felidae) of the genus Acinonyx and a member of the Leopardinae sub-family. The cheetah is one of four wild species in the genus Acinonyx, two of which are critically endangered with an estimated 10 to 50 individuals left in the wild.
Cheetahs inhabit a broad section of Africa including areas of North Africa, the Sahel, and eastern and southern Africa. Over the past 50 years, cheetahs have become extinct in at least 13 countries, and they are most prevalent in Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa and Namibia and Botswana in southern Africa. The Asiatic cheetah is known to survive in Iran but is critically endangered.
Cheetahs thrive in areas with vast expanses of land where prey is abundant. In Namibia, cheetahs live in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, savannahs, dense vegetation, and mountainous terrain. As human development expands into their preferred habitat, cheetahs can now commonly be found on commercial farms.
Cheetahs don’t literally roar, but they make a lot of different sounds including purrs, barks, growls, hisses & chirps that are unlike those of any other cat. The most common vocalization is the “chirp” noise. Cats do some (odd) things that we would never expect. Maybe they’re trying to get your attention or ask you out. You’ll recognize the sounds if you hear them.
Male cats also make a low-frequency sound when they want something – it sounds kinda like a meow but with less pronounced low notes. One other common vocalization is the stutter, which is a high-pitched flick of the tongue. In addition to vocalizations, many cats meow when they’re hungry or want to go outside. Females often ask their small children to stay put or to follow her because they’re hungry, bored or need guidance.
A high-pitched chirping noise is heard a mile away, so even if you’re not around, you’ll know that someone found something. Estrus females regularly release this signal to attract attention from males. Chirping is also sometimes heard as a distress signal from either males or females. Males may occasionally make a chirping sound when they are separated. In 2001, cheetahs at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo were examined for ways in which they may be able to identify each other. The study found that sounds emitted by an individual cheetah vary from person to person indicating that our feline friends use ‘chirps’ as a way of identifying one another.
A stuttering sound, with a long a, like “aaaaa” that sounds like a pigeon.
The cute sound can be heard between the mother and cubs. It is unusual because it goes on for minutes and is produced continuously both while the cat inhales and exhales. Cats have a variety of elaborate signals they can use to communicate with each other and their humans, including the vibration that is associated with purring. Cats are able to do this because they are capable of using their entire body surface, including the paws and their whiskers in order to make these gestures.
When I’m looking for cheetahs, this is what I do.
People often find it very interesting that the cheetah is like a cat in many ways, but is also similar to a dog in other ways. They are nocturnal predators but spend most of their time hunting during the day. Cheetahs are usually shy, so they prefer to jump on their intended victim before letting them know what’s coming. They creep up to over 100 yards away before making their final acceleration, with full sprints typically being used.
Cheetahs love to hunt for small antelope, including springbok, steenbok, duikers, impala and gazelles and several larger animals like warthog, kudu, hartebeest or sable. They also consume game birds in smaller numbers and rabbits.
Cheetahs are the fastest land animal in the world and they’re able to catch their prey with incredible speed. If a competitor is faster than a cheetah, then they’ll catch it using a vise-like grip on its throat. Animals like rabbits also don’t fare well against this predator.
But whatever the meal, be it large or small, cheetahs tend to eat quickly. Cheetahs have a lot of predators and are often bullied away from their prey. Cheetahs are well known for their unique “clean eating” habits. Cheetahs won’t eat the carcass and leave the feathers, teeth, and entrails behind. At just 6 weeks, the young are strong enough to follow the hunt and when they are 6 months old, the mother will capture live prey for them to practice killing.
The cheetahs at the zoo eat 3.5 pounds of ground beef each day. Some days they are given frozen rabbits and beef femurs for enrichment.
Cheetahs are amazing! Not only do they have the highest sprint speed on land, but they also have a unique social order among felids. Adult females are solitary, while adult males are not. Adult females interact with adult males only long enough to breed and raise their cubs on their own. At 18 months, the mother leaves the cubs who, on their own for a little less than six months, become a sibling group.
Around 2 years of age, the sisters leave and never rejoin while all young males remain together through adulthood. Singleton males are not common; typically, they do not survive long. However, anyone that does is usually very tightly bonded. The coalition will be together for life and will claim a territory; it may even cover the entire acreage of their home range!
Around the age of two, when males reach sexual maturity, they seek out an altered area that is far away from their parents. Sometimes the male will search for an area as far as 4 miles (6km) away from its original position.
The size of male territories can vary, with the average being roughly 10 square miles (26 square kilometers). Male territories may also stretch up to 50 square miles (130 square kilometers), although they are rare in comparison. In environments that would typically attract herds of females, male territories will be a hot spot for the competition.
Young female wolves were usually solitary, but they were often seen in family groups. They occupy the same range as their mother, although they tend to take over her den after a few years of litter dwelling. Females tend to have smaller home ranges, which is typical and easier to manage.
Their ranges vary in size depending on the season, but those in the dry season are smaller than those in wet seasons. They usually share ranges with others due to scarcity and sometimes even their groups of females may encounter one another.
Reproduction and Development
Sexual maturity occurs at 18-23 months, the gestation period is about 3 months and the average litter size ranges from 3 to 6 cubs. They also have no definitive breeding season, but most pregnancies occur during the wet season. The day you were born ties in with the cheetah birth season, which means more prey will be available to them.
Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly what a Cubs color is. It also looks like they have long hair called a mantle, but it’s unclear how long that is. They’re about 12 inches (30 centimeters) from head to tail and weigh an average of 9-12 oz (400g).
Cubs die at extremely high rates in both the wild & captivity. On average, 30% of all cubs born in animal care die within one month of birth and in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, about 90% die before reaching three months of age.
Young animals that haven’t been taught how to hunt in the wild will often practice on live prey. They need live prey to gain the strength and skills they need to successfully capture and kill their own food later.
When most cats sleep, they usually stay up during the night.
As cheetahs are able to escape the tamer animals of the wild, their average lifespan is increasing as well. There has been a lot decrease in the number of cheetah deaths every year since the 1990s!