The Cheetah is a large, slender cat that live in sub-Saharan Africa, and in eastern and southern African parks. Cheetahs can also be found in small numbers in southern Algeria, northern Niger and Iran.
The Cheetah is the fastest land animal on the planet. They are members of the family Felidae, which includes the tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, snow leopard, and other big cats.
Cheetah Facts Overview
|Habitat:||Dry Grasslands, Scrub Forests & Savannahs.|
|Location:||sub-Saharan Africa, eastern and southern Africa, southern Algeria, northern Niger and Iran|
|Lifespan:||15 – 20 Years|
|Size:||112 – 150 cm (45 – 60 in)|
|Weight:||46 – 159 pounds (21 – 72 kg)|
|Color:||Tan with black spots|
|Diet:||Gazelles, Wildebeest, Impalas, Rabbits, Birds, Hares, Antelopes, & Warthogs|
|Predators:||Lions, Leopards, Hyenas, Eagles (Young cubs)|
|Top Speed:||100 kph (65 mph)|
|No. of Species:||1|
Cheetahs are found in open and dry grasslands in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, although they were once widespread throughout Africa and Asia. The majority of Cheetahs today inhabit natural reserves or parks.
Cheetahs in the wild typically live between 10 – 15 years in the wild. Some can reach 20 years of age while in captivity.
The Cheetah has a slender body with long legs and is clearly designed for speed. They are tan in color with a massive covering of black spots all over the body. The unique patterns of the spots are as distinctive as fingerprints are on humans.
Cheetahs are easy to distinguish from other large cats as they are smaller in size, have a smaller head and ears than most other cats, have a spotted coat and carry what are known as tear stripes that run from the corner of each eye to the side of their nose.
These meat eaters typically hunt and eat impalas, wildebeest calves, gazelles and other smaller hoofed animals. They are diurnal, which means they hunt during the day and rely on tall grasses to hide when on the hunt. Cheetahs mostly hunt in either the late morning or early evening.
A typical chase can last between 20 and 60-seconds with only half of them being successful. They have large non-retractable claws that are used to prevent skidding when cornering quickly, and to pull down an animal.
Interesting Cheetah Facts
1. Cheetahs are the fastest land animal in the world.
These cats are fast. They can typically reach speeds of up to 98 kilometers per hour (61 miles per hour), and can go from 0 to 60 Mph in just 3-seconds, which is faster than most super-cars. Their stride length becomes as long as 7m (23ft) at full pace, which means the cheetah spends more than half the time airborne. 1
2. Cheetahs don’t simply rely on their speed, they anticipate the escape tactics of different prey when hunting.
A team or researchers found that Cheetahs hunting tactics were specific to characteristics of their prey, and are far more sophisticated than thought. 2
3. The Cheetah tail helps them steer at high speed.
It may look large and cumbersome, but when on the chase, the tail of the Cheetah plays an important role. It actually helps to steer the cheetah as it runs, like a rudder on a boat.
It’s not a cheetahs speed that’s their greatest attribute when hunting, it’s this agility — their skill at jumping sideways, changing directions quickly and slowing down almost instantly. 3
4. Cheetahs tire quickly.
Due to the energy required to run at such speed, cheetahs can only maintain a chase for between 200 – 300m. If a hunt isn’t successful after 1 min, they usually stop to rest.
5. Fossils have revealed that Cheetahs date way, way back.
Carbon dating has estimated the age of some cheetah fossils as being between one and two million years old.
6. Cheetah can’t roar.
Unlike big cats like the lion, cheetahs are unable to roar. They are closer to your domestic house cat in that they can purr, both inhaling and exhaling.
7. Female adult cheetahs often live alone.
Known to be typically solitary animals, females raise their cubs alone for about a year before they leave. Male cheetahs sometimes will live in a small group of brothers from the same litter.
8. Cheetahs abandon around 10% of kills to larger predators.
In order to prevent losing their kill to another big and nasty carnivore (Lions, hyenas or even vultures), Cheetahs will move their prey to a secluded spot, and eat quickly. They will also hunt during the day when predators are generally asleep, and only end up abandoning a relatively small number of kills. 4
9. The cheetahs spots act as camouflage.
The cheetah can have between 2,000 and 3,000 spots, to help it blend into surroundings when hunting or hiding from predators.
10. There is no end to the cheetah mating season.
Cheetahs can mate any time of the year with gestation lasting just three months. A litter can range between 2 and 4 cubs.
11. Cheetah cubs have a very different coat to that of adults.
The cubs have a smoky colored, long, wooly coat called a mantle. It runs down their backs and acts as a form of camouflage. It helps to conceal the cubs and their mothers assist in this by constantly seeking places to ‘hide’ them to protect the cubs from predators until they are old enough to take care of themselves.
12. Cubs get moved around a lot.
Female cheetahs will move their cubs to different hiding places every few days. Once the cubs reach 5 or 6 weeks of age, they will follow their mothers and even start eating from their kills. By the time the cubs reach one year of age, they are hunting on their own. At 15 months, they will move away from their mother and either find a mate or sometimes live in a small group.
13. Cheetahs are not that thirsty…for water that is.
Having adapted for life in an environment where there is little water, cheetahs can go three to four days without a drop of it. That doesn’t mean that they don’t actually get any liquids at all. As it turns out, cheetahs are able to draw water from the animals they hunt, kill and eat.
14. Cheetahs start families early.
The male can reproduce at the age of one while females can begin rearing families at the age of two. The pairing is mostly random as cheetahs will mate with many different cheetahs during their lifetime.
15. Females end up raising their young alone.
Males do not participate in the rearing of their young however, females have been described as caring, affectionate and dedicated mothers.
16. Cheetah cubs have a shockingly high mortality rate.
One study in the 90’s the Serengeti found that 95% of cubs died before reaching adulthood. Many deaths were due to Lions, but also other predators and disease. 5
17. Cheetahs can do something no other cat can do.
The Cheetah is the only big cat that is capable of turning in mid-air while sprinting.
18. It’s a myth that cheetahs abandon hunts due to overheating when running.
Two Harvard scientists in 1973 set-up an artificial experiment in a laboratory, that that concluded a cheetah would be forced to stop running when their body temperature reached 40.5 degrees Celsius.
However, new research in real world conditions shows that cheetahs body temperatures never rise that high in the wild, and they don’t abandon hunts due to overheating. 6
19. Cheetahs have been around for a very, very long time.
Sumerians trained cheetahs for hunting back in 3000 BC. The Indian (then Hindustan) ruler Emperor Akbar had 1,000 trained cheetahs he used for hunting while in power from 1556 to 1605. Even King Tut’s tomb (1400 BC) contained various cheetah artifacts. It was because of this that historians believed that the cheetah was a sacred animal to ancient Egyptians.
20. Cheetahs are slowly disappearing from the planet.
At the turn of the 20th century there were well over 100,000 cheetahs. Today the numbers are considerably less with roughly 7,000 in Africa and a few hundred in Iran. They have been driven out of their historic range by humans, and are now only found in Algeria, Angola, Northern Niger, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, and Mozambique. The species is already almost extinct in Asia, with fewer than 50 individuals remaining in one isolated pocket of Iran. 7
Cheetah Fact-File Summary
|Species Name:||Acinonyx Jubatus|
Related ‘Big Cat’ Facts
Fact Sources & References
- “The Truth About Cheetahs” (2014), via BBC Earth.
- “New insight into how Cheetahs catch their prey” (2013), via Science Daily.
- “Cheetahs’ Secret Weapon: A Tight Turning Radius” (2013), via NY Times.
- “To flee or not to flee: predator avoidance by cheetahs at kills” (2006), via Springer Link
- “Five Things That Might Surprise You About Cheetahs” (2017), via BBC Earth.
- “It’s a Myth That Cheetahs Overheat While Hunting” (2013), via National Geographic.
- “Cheetahs Are Dangerously Close to Extinction” (2016), via the National Academy of Sciences
The cheetah is the world's fastest land animal. They can run as fast as a car on the interstate—up to 70 mph. And they can reach that speed in just 3 seconds!What is the most interesting fact about cheetahs? ›
Cheetahs are blisteringly fast and can reach speeds up to 64 miles per hour in 3 seconds, making them the fastest land animals in the world over short distances. For comparison with humans, Usain Bolt currently holds the record as the fastest man in the world, with a top speed of around 27 miles per hour.How smart is a cheetah? ›
Are Cheetahs Smart? While they wouldn't compare to animals such as chimps or elephants, cheetahs are smart animals. They hunt by predicting the moves of their prey and being careful to pounce when they are close enough to catch the animal.What is a cheetah's favorite? ›
Cheetahs are carnivores and feed mostly on smaller antelope like springbok, steenbok, Thomson's gazelle, and duiker.Can cheetahs swim? ›
Cheetahs—the fastest land mammals on the planet—are incredible creatures. They're able to reach speeds of up to 70 mph and can swim (although they don't like to).What are 5 characteristics of a cheetah? ›
The cheetah is a lightly built, spotted cat characterised by a small rounded head, a short snout, black tear-like facial streaks, a deep chest, long thin legs and a long tail.What are 5 things cheetahs eat? ›
What do cheetahs eat? These carnivores eat small antelope, including springbok, steenbok, duikers, impala and gazelles, as well as the young of larger animals, such as warthogs, kudu, hartebeest, oryx, roan and sable. Cheetahs also hunt game birds and rabbits.How strong is a cheetah? ›
Cheetahs can generate four times the maximum power output of Usain Bolt when they sprint and have a manoeuvrability unmatched by any other animal when hunting prey, according to scientists who tracked the big cats in their natural habitat.Do cheetahs see in color? ›
This is because cheetahs have more cone photoreceptor cells and fewer rod photoreceptor cells in their retina compared with other cats. A specific type of cone photoreceptor called S cones are much more abundant in cheetah retinas than other cats, which are expected to enhance their ability to discriminate colours.Are cheetahs people friendly? ›
Are cheetahs friendly? Cheetahs are not an active threat to humans, and are rather docile compared to other wild cats. But, cheetahs are still wild animals, and you should never attempt to touch a wild cheetah. This is important for your own safety, as well as for the cheetah's well-being.
Their slender frame, long legs, flexible spine, and long, muscular tail all help this cat reach extreme speeds like no other animal, as well as helping them move gracefully.Is a king cheetah real? ›
Yes way. There is, indeed, a breed of cheetah with stripes and that breed is known as the King Cheetah. The King Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a very rare breed of cheetah found only in southern Africa.Can a cheetah smell? ›
Although cheetah have an excellent sense of smell and very good hearing they rely primarily on vision during hunting [31, 32].Are cheetahs lazy? ›
Indeed, Caro observes that even as young cubs, females more often take the initiative in the hunt, while males are "lazy," relying on their mothers and sisters to capture prey for them.What is a cheetah's weakness? ›
In a tradeoff for having various adaptations needed for rapid acceleration to pursue prey, such as a reduced muzzle and smaller skull size, cheetahs have weak jaws and smaller canine teeth compared to other large cats. This leaves cheetahs vulnerable when it comes to defending captured prey from other larger predators.Is cheetah shy? ›
Cheetahs Are So Shy That Zoos Give Them Their Own Emotional “Support Dogs” While cheetahs might be quite the big cats and the fastest animal on the Earth to add to that, actually, they are very sensitive beings. They get so anxious; they don't know how to socialize with each other and get too stressed to procreate.What are cheetah scared of? ›
Scare the cheetah.
Cheetahs are known to avoid areas frequented by hyenas and lions. Bringing along a recorded hyena or lion call will dissuade any nearby cheetah from engaging you or your party.
Cheetahs are scared of hyenas because cheetahs know how strong the bite of hyenas is. A hyena can easily bite and crush the bones of other animals, including the cheetahs. So the cheetah will not choose to fight against the hyena and rely on its speed to get away from the hyena to avoid severe injury.Who is cheetah's enemy? ›
Lions, leopards, and hyenas will try to prey upon cheetah, particularly cheetah cubs. Because they are so fast, adult cheetahs are difficult to catch.Can a cheetah fight? ›
Combat Skills of a Cheetah and a Lion
Lions and cheetahs are both predators, so they know how to fight. In fact, they hunt quite similarly when performing solo. They will stalk and ambush predators and then use their teeth to grasp a vital area, like the neck, and drag the animal to the ground before finishing the job.
Cheetahs do well in colder temperatures and grow a thick winter coat. Heated dens—complete with a hefty helping of hay bedding—will help the family stay warm on chilly days.Do cheetahs like fish? ›
No they do not. In general, the diet of the cheetah consists of gazelles, wildebeest calves, impalas, and smaller hoofed animals in its habitat. Furthermore, cheetahs may eat rabbits, birds, hares, antelopes, and warthogs.What color are cheetahs eyes? ›
Leopards typically have green or blue eyes while cheetahs tend to have brown eyes.What is cheetah called in English? ›
A cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a medium large cat which lives in Africa.How high can a cheetah jump? ›
Fun cheetah facts
This is the only big cat that can turn mid-air during a sprint. Cheetahs can jump more than ten times their body's length and are known to reach 20 feet high.
Like most animals, cheetahs drink water. Cheetahs are however very adapted to their savannah habitat and drink water once or twice a week. They often get their water from the rivers and waterholes found in the national parks and game reserves where they live.Where do cheetahs sleep? ›
Cheetahs spend most of their time sleeping and they are minimally active during the hottest portions of the day. They prefer shady spots and will sleep under the protection of large shady trees.Do cheetahs eat chicken? ›
A cheetah's food source changes when living in captivity. In zoos, they eat horse meat, chicken, beef, rabbit, and meat-based feed specifically designed for their diet.Is cheetah a hero or villain? ›
Type of Villain
The Cheetah is the name of five villains in the DC Universe, although the current Cheetah, Barbara Ann Minerva, is the best-known version of the character. She is one of the three archenemies of Wonder Woman (the others are Ares and Circe) and the central antagonist of the Wonder Woman franchise.
Originally Answered: In a fight who would win, A (lone) wolf or a cheetah? Easily the wolf. Cheetahs have an incredibly small head, smaller than a puma (which has a decently smaller head than a wolf). The cheetah has incredibly puny jaws in comparison to Canis lupus.
These large carnivores are known to not only attack cheetah cubs, but also steal prey in an act called kleptoparasitism. Cheetahs do not have the strength to haul their kills up trees to keep them safe from scavengers as a leopard does, nor can they physically defend themselves against a lion.How long are cheetahs blind? ›
At birth, cheetah cubs are blind, but they get their eyesight within 10 days. A mother cheetah can have 2-8 cubs per litter.Why do cheetahs have red eyes? ›
Cheetahs have huge pupils, compared to humans, so enough light goes through them to give you the "red eye" effect even without a flash, and at wider angles. This is visible in most cats and in some dogs as well.Can baby cheetahs see? ›
Cheetah cubs are completely helpless and blind at birth, however they develop rapidly and within 10 days their eyes have opened and they have begun to crawl around the nest area. By three weeks old their teeth have broken through their gums.Do cheetahs meow? ›
They meow and purr just like a regular housecat. Even though cheetahs, which can weigh up to 159 pounds, are quite large, their anatomy is that of a small cat. Their voice box is fixed, with vocal cords that vibrate as they breath in and out. This allows them to purr, but strips away their ability to roar.Can I buy a cheetah? ›
Cheetahs are rare in the U.S. and are not even so common in zoological facilities because they are hard to breed and are not imported easily. Furthermore, it is illegal to keep them as pets in the U.S.Are cheetahs like dogs? ›
Although cheetahs are members of the cat family, they have dog-like non-retractable claws. This limits cheetahs tree-climbing ability but gives them a speed advantage when charging. Typically, a cheetah will start a charge 60m to 100m from an antelope and, within seconds, will be racing at full tilt.Can a cheetah climb a tree? ›
Branches need to be low hanging and gently sloped as, unlike leopards, cheetahs' claws are not adapted to climbing vertical tree trunks. As with most animal behaviour, they learn how to climb and scramble around in the trees by exploring as cubs, under the watchful eye of their mother.Why is cheetah so powerful? ›
Her powers are conferred to her by ingesting a potion made from human blood and the berries and leaves of Urzkartaga, which gives her orange skin with black spots, a tail and claws, as well as superhuman senses and reflexes. Unfortunately for Minerva, the host of the Cheetah persona is intended to be a virgin.Why are cheetahs so shy? ›
Many captive cheetahs are especially shy because they never learned how to socialize with other cheetahs, often because their mother rejected or abandoned them.
|Voice Actress||Jillian Michaels|
Cream (or isabelline) cheetahs appear to be a further dilution of red with pale red spots on a pale background. Blue (or grey) cheetahs have variously been described as white cheetahs with grey-blue spots (chinchilla) or pale grey cheetahs with darker grey spots (maltese mutation).What is the rarest cheetah? ›
It's not easy to get a glimpse of the critically endangered Saharan cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki), the rarest of the six cheetah subspecies. It's not easy to get a glimpse of the critically endangered Saharan cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki), the rarest of the six cheetah subspecies.What color is cheetah skin? ›
Cheetahs have lots of black spots.
This makes it harder for predators to see cheetahs in the tall grasses. A fascinating fact is that the black spots grow out of black spotted skin while the yellowish-beige fur grows out of yellowish-beige skin.
Cheetahs are not normally aggressive and will usually quickly retreat from a noisy dog. The Livestock Guarding Dog Program is such a creative way to protect an endangered species.How do cheetahs talk? ›
Cheetahs produce a variety of sounds including growls, purrs that generally denote contentment, chirps (between a mother and her cubs), and an "explosive yelp" heard by humans from 2 km (1.24 mi.) away. Moans, growls, hisses, and spitting vocalizations are generally produced in agonistic or combative situations.Where do cheetahs live fun facts? ›
The Cheetah is a large, slender cat that live in sub-Saharan Africa, and in eastern and southern African parks. Cheetahs can also be found in small numbers in southern Algeria, northern Niger and Iran. The Cheetah is the fastest land animal on the planet.Are cheetahs asexual? ›
Cheetahs become sexually mature between 20 to 23 months of age, although some may mature within 18 months. Breeding occurs throughout the year. Females are polyestrous, with a typical estrous cycle lasting 12 days in which the female will be "in heat" for 1 to 3 days. Female cheetahs may mate with more than one male.Are cheetahs friendly? ›
Are cheetahs friendly? Cheetahs are not an active threat to humans, and are rather docile compared to other wild cats. But, cheetahs are still wild animals, and you should never attempt to touch a wild cheetah. This is important for your own safety, as well as for the cheetah's well-being.Do cheetahs like meat? ›
These carnivores eat small antelope, including springbok, steenbok, duikers, impala and gazelles, as well as the young of larger animals, such as warthogs, kudu, hartebeest, oryx, roan and sable. Cheetahs also hunt game birds and rabbits.
In a tradeoff for having various adaptations needed for rapid acceleration to pursue prey, such as a reduced muzzle and smaller skull size, cheetahs have weak jaws and smaller canine teeth compared to other large cats. This leaves cheetahs vulnerable when it comes to defending captured prey from other larger predators.Are cheetahs shy? ›
Although Cheetahs appear to be fierce, dominant predators, the truth is that they're actually very shy and anxious! Much like house cats, Cheetahs have some skittish tendencies. These “fearsome” creatures are sensitive and introverted animals that are easily stressed.Do cheetahs have feelings? ›
Cheetahs Are So Shy That Zoos Give Them Their Own Emotional “Support Dogs” While cheetahs might be quite the big cats and the fastest animal on the Earth to add to that, actually, they are very sensitive beings. They get so anxious; they don't know how to socialize with each other and get too stressed to procreate.Is cheetah a pride? ›
Socially, cheetahs are somewhere on the scale between lions and leopards. They do not form prides as lions do but small groups of between four and six cheetahs can be common, particularly groupings of brothers. Cheetah probably live for between 12 and 15 years in the wild.Do cheetahs cuddle? ›
Yes, you heard that right. Cheetahs! After some time of sleeping on the hard concrete, one of the cheetahs decides to cuddle up next to the man and sleeps, just like how our dogs do.