Graceful and elegant, the Cheetah is a wild animal belonging to the family of big cats. However, it is not really as big as leopards, tigers or lions. Despite its comparatively smaller size, the Cheetah enters the hall of fame for being the fastest land mammal to live on earth. Let us take a look at 40 interesting facts about Cheetah.
Interesting Cheetah Facts: 1-20
1. A carnivorous mammal, Cheetah’s scientific name is Acinonyx Jubatus.
2. Its body is 1.1-1.5 meters long and its tail is 60-80 centimeters long. Its weight can range between 110 and 140 pounds.
3. It has a lifespan of up to 20 years with average life of 17 years.
4. Today, this cat is found only in sub-Saharan Africa and Iran but once it dwelt across Africa, Asia and in certain parts of Middle East.
5. Population of Cheetahs in 1900 was more 100,000 but today the species has been listed as an endangered species with a population of estimated 9,000 to 12,000. 200 of these remaining cats are found in an isolated area in Iran while the remaining dwell in southwestern and central Africa.
6. Its common habitat is open grassland but it can also be found in dense woodland.
7. Unlike other big cats such as lions and tigers, this cat never roars. It rather purrs and often make chirping-like sound to communicate with each other.
8. Its fur is of tan color that allows it to blend easily in tall grasses of savannah. Its entire body is covered with black spots. The pattern of spots in every cheetah is different, making each one of them uniquely identifiable.
9. They have characteristic ‘tear stripes’ that stretch all the way down to their nose starting from the corner of their eyes.
10. There are 36 different species of cheetahs and irrespective of the species, they need to drink water once every 3-4 days. They can draw fluid from the food they eat. They live by the day and are known as diurnal creatures.
11. Cheetah’s can run at a speed of 70 miles per hour and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 3 seconds. Though this cat is the fastest land mammal it cannot run at top speed for a long time. It can sprint at that speed for 100 yards, beyond which its body gets over heated.
12. While chasing a prey, cheetah’s body temperature can reach up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or 41 degrees Celsius.
13. Its entire body is designed for speed. Muscular, slim and long legs with non-retractable claws, deep chest, and flexible spine, small rounded head on long neck, special traction pads on feet – all add to its aerodynamic structure.
14. This cat uses its tail for balancing and steering when it runs to hunt. The tail actually helps it to take sharp turns in any direction while running at its top speed.
15. Cheetahs generally hunt smaller animals like impalas, Thompson’s gazelles, birds, hares etc.
16. They can also hunt down zebras and wildebeest if they hunt in a group.
17. They don’t stalk their prey. They creep up close and then chase their prey for around 20 to 30 seconds.
18. They use their non-retractable sharp claws to knock down a prey on ground and then use a suffocating neck bite to kill the prey.
19. Once they successfully hunt, they need to may sure that they eat their food quickly to prevent scavengers from getting hold of it. Jackals, vultures, leopards, lions and hyenas often take away their kills.
20. Mother cheetahs teach their cubs to hunt by catching a prey alive. Instead of catching it by neck, the mother catches the victim safely by head and releases it in front of the cubs which then chase the victim and learn to hunt. The mother cat however needs to make sure that she trips the victim to prevent it from escaping. This gives her cubs a chance to strike.
Interesting Cheetah Facts: 21-40
21. Cheetahs don’t have any specific mating season. They mate throughout the year with a gestation period of 3 months. Generally 2 to 4 cubs are born in a litter.
22. Females are responsible for raising the cubs alone. They feed and train the cubs for around a year.
23. When raising her cubs, a mother cheetah will always change its lair every 4 days. This prevents the buildup of smell which can attract predators like hyenas. The new lair is generally within a few meters of the older one.
24. When caring for its cubs, the mother leaves them in the lair alone and goes hunting during morning. She also patrols the surrounding area to watch for creeping predators.
25. For first 6 months from birth, the cubs are entirely dependent on their mother. During the first month, the cubs start crawling and standing. Cubs generally open their eyes after 1-2 weeks.
26. From 6th month to 12th month, the cubs are taught to hunt but the mother still does most of the killing and feed the cubs.
27. By end of 1 year, the cubs become effective hunters and they start hunting on their own. The mother often joins them to guide and hunt together.
28. By end of 15 months, the cubs move out on their own. The male cubs are often found roaming and hunting in groups.
29. Cheetah cubs are born with gray and long furs. This gives them camouflage and allows them to blend in the surroundings. These furs also make them appear like the formidable honey badgers.
30. Females are solitary by nature and prefer living in isolation raising cubs.
31. Males on the other hands are often found forming tribes with other males either from same litter or different litter.
32. Adult males and females socially interact only during oestrus or mating times.
33. During this social interaction, males and females lick each other’s faces and groom each other. This licking and grooming is actually initiated by female cheetahs.
34. Males are territorial by nature. They will mark and claim an area by urinating on tree roots and then scraping the ground using their hind legs.
35. Cheetahs are wild cats and carnivorous but they also have predators. They are threatened by lions, hyenas, humans and eagles.
36. Humans and cheetahs have been associated for long time. Sumerians dating back to 3000 B.C. (one of the earliest known civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia) trained cheetahs for hunting.
37. Mughal Emperor Akbar (who ruled India, the then Hindustan, from 1556 to 1605) had 1000 trained cheetahs that he used for hunting.
38. Tutankhamen’s tomb (dating back to 1400 B.C.) was found to have cheetah artifacts. This led historians to believe that cheetahs were sacred animals to ancient Egyptians.
39. 18-20 million years ago cheetahs grew into a large population in Africa when grasslands started spreading there. The area also saw a rapid growth in gazelles (cheetahs feed on them) during that period.
40. Fossils of Giant Cheetah (a cheetah sub-species) have been unearthed. Carbon dating revealed that the fossils are 1-2 million years old.