These graceful animals are identified by their unique black spots on gold or yellow coats and are known for their amazing speed.
Cheetahs are 1.1 to 1.4 meters (3.5 to 4.5 feet) long from head to rump, and their tails add an additional 65 to 80 centimeters (25.5 to 31.5 inches). Normally, these big cats weigh around 35 to 65 kilograms (77 to 143 lbs).
With a life span of 10 to 12 years, the cheetah is basically a solitary animal.
The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world, reaching speeds of up to 120 km/h. They can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just 3 seconds.
Cheetahs will take up to 150 breaths per minute during a high-speed chase – nearly triple their normal respiratory rate.
When running, cheetahs use their tail to steer, like a rudder for a boat.
Cheetahs don’t try to outrun their prey. Once they catch up, they slow down and make sharp, calculated turns while closing in.
Photo source: www.tuskphoto.com
Female cheetahs select a lair, either a rocky outcrop or marshy area with tall grass, before giving birth to their cubs. Mothers only leave the cubs to hunt, before returning to nurse the young. Males do not help with the rearing of young.
Cheetahs are caring, affectionate and dedicated mothers. They spend a long time caring for their cubs and teaching them essential survival skills like hunting. Cubs typically stay with their mothers for one and a half to two years.
Cheetah moms may use their tails, tipped in black or white fur, to signal to their cubs while traveling through tall grass.
Cheetah moms chirp like birds to call their cubs when they’re out of sight. Likewise, cheetah cubs chirp when they are looking for their mom.
Cheetahs prefer wide open spaces, like savannah and even semiarid desert, but can live in thick bush and even mountainous terrain.
Cheetahs make distinct facial expressions to signal their mood.
While cheetahs can’t roar, they make a variety of sounds including chirping, purring, barking, hissing, bleating (like a meow) and growling.
While most cats are nocturnal, cheetahs tend to hunt during daylight, preferring early morning or early evening.
Male cheetahs often form coalitions to defend large territories. Females have wide ranges too, but those with cubs tend to stay in one area.
Grooming is a very important to cheetahs. They spend several hours a day cleaning their fur – a bonding experience in cheetah groups.
At the end of the 19th century, there were about 100,000 cheetahs. Today, there are between 9,000 and 12,000 left – mostly in Africa.
Ancient Egyptians believed a cheetah goddess named “Mafdet” carried the pharaoh’s soul to the afterworld. Cheetahs were symbols of royalty.
Ancient Sumerians were the first to depict cheetahs in artwork. The oldest cheetah carving dates back to 3000 B.C.
The word “cheetah” is derived from the Sanskrit word for “variegated,” which means “exhibiting patches of different colors.”
Traditional witch doctors and healers in Africa used cheetah foot bones in rituals to symbolize swiftness and speed.
During the Renaissance virtually every Italian family of nobility, and many French families, kept cheetahs for hunting.