Scientific Name: Acinonyx jubatus
Average lifespan in the wild: 10 to 12 years
Size: 3.5 to 4.5 ft (1.1 to 1.4 m); Tail, 25.5 to 31.5 in (65 to 80 cm)
Weight: 77 to 143 lbs (35 to 65 kg)
Habitat: Open plains
Protection status: Vulnerable
What does a cheetah look like?
The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal. Over short distances, it can sprint up to 70 miles per hour. Built for speed, it has long, slim, muscular legs, a small, rounded head set on a long neck, a flexible spine, a deep chest, special pads on its feet for traction and a long tail for balance. It is also the only cat that cannot retract its claws, an adaptation to help maintain traction like a soccer player’s cleats. Distinctive black "tear tracks" running from the inside corner of each eye to the mouth may serve as an antiglare mechanism for daytime hunting.
How fast is a cheetah?
The cheetah can reach speeds of 68 mph, making it the fastest land mammal in the world. It has nonretractable claws (unlike those of other cats), which provide it with better traction when it runs on soft ground. Unlike most large cats, which hunt by ambush, the cheetah chases its prey at high speed, using its tail as a stabilizer, especially when making tight turns.
Where do cheetahs live?
Most wild cheetahs are found in eastern and southwestern Africa. Perhaps only 12,000 of these big cats remain, and those are under pressure as the wide-open grasslands they favor are disappearing at the hands of human settlers.
What does a cheetah eat?
Cheetahs usually prey on small antelopes such as Thomson's gazelles and impalas, but also hunt small mammals and birds. The cheetah gets as close to the prey as possible, then in a burst of speed it tries to outrun its quarry. Once the cheetah closes in, it knocks the prey to the ground with its paw and suffocates the animal with a bite to the neck. Once a cheetah has made a kill, it eats quickly and keeps an eye out for scavengers—lions, leopards, hyenas, vultures and jackals will steal from this timid predator. Unlike most other cats, the cheetah usually hunts during daylight, preferring early morning or early evening.
What sound does a cheetah make?
Cheetahs do not roar like lions, but they purr, hiss, whine and growl. They also make a variety of contact calls; the most common is a birdlike chirping sound.
Did You Know?
The name cheetah comes from an Indian word meaning "spotted one."
The young cub has a long gray-blue coat and a black underbelly that rapidly lightens and becomes spotted.
Early peoples trained cheetahs for hunting, and many civilizations depicted them in their art and in written records.
Cheetahs were so popular that Akbar the Great of India was said to have kept a stable of about 1,000.
In Sumerian, Egyptian and other ancient civilations, cheetahs were frequently kept as pets. In fact, as hunting companions they may once have been as popular as dogs.
Download free Cheetah wallpapers, click on the image to open the large version.
Cheetah wallpaper 1
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Cheetah coloring pages
Download free Cheetah coloring pages, click on the image to open the large version.