Cheetah - African Animals
Description and Characteristics:
The Cheetah is the fastest land mammal in the world and can reach speeds of
80-100 km/h. However, it is only able to keep up this speed for a short period
of time. The cheetah has a slender body, a small head, and long legs, which
makes it ideal for speed, it is also the only cat without retractable claws
which allows the claws to always be exposed, makes for better traction when
running. The tail is also adapted to help maintain balance at high speeds and
during quick turns.
The cheetah has a background colour of light golden yellow/tan, covered with
small, round, black spots on the cheeks, forehead, crown, neck, and limbs.
They have a distinctive black tear-shaped from the corner of the eye to the
corner of the mouth and a mane-like black stripe running the length of their
Cheetahs do not roar like lions and tigers. Instead, they make birdlike chirping
sounds for communication with other members of the family and they hiss when
angered or threatened and purr loudly when they are content. If they are alarmed
they whine or growl.
A cheetah has a good sense of smell and communicate by scenting tree trunks,
bushes and termite mounds with their waste.
Cheetahs are typically solitary creatures although males sometimes live with
a small group of brothers from the same litter.
The cheetah's diet consists of impala, springbok, gazelles, kob, warthogs,
lesser kudu, blackbuck, hares, and game birds. Male coalitions sometimes take
larger prey such as wildebeest. They generally stalk their prey until they
are only about 20 meters away, then they chase, which lasts about 20 seconds.
The cheetah is only successful in catching it prey in about half of all chases
and they often lose they catch to lions and hyenas. Unlike other large cats,
the cheetah generally hunts during the daytime.
Cheetahs are confined to parts of Eastern and Southwestern Africa. They are
well adapted to dry habitats such as savanna grasslands and semi-deserts.
Cheetahs prefer grasslands that offer unobstructed views of their surroundings;
such habitats make it easier to detect prey as well as predators.
Size & Lifespan
Male cheetahs are slightly larger and heavier than females. Cheetahs are approx.
95 cm tall, and measures 182 cm in length. Males weigh about 55 kgs and females
about 40 kg. On average a cheetah lives for 12 - 14 years in the wild
The gestation period is usually 3 months and a female gives birth to between
2 and 6 cubs. They breed throughout the year and it is the female who raises
the cubs. A cub stays with its mother for about one year before venturing
off by itself. The male cheetah plays no part in the upbringing. Cubs are
smoky grey in colour with long woolly hair, called a mantle, running along
Predators and Threats:
Cheetahs are often killed by lions and hyenas, especially their cubs. Up to
80% of the cubs do not survive. In recent years human encroachment on their
habitat and hunting has dramatically reduced their numbers.
Cheetah, African Animals Reservation Form