facts about cheetahs
- The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world, reaching speeds of up to 113km/h. They can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in just 3 seconds
- Cheetahs have between 2,000 and 3,000 spots, which help them to camouflage themselves
- Previously, cheetahs were wide-spread across African and Asian continents, but now they are confined mostly to dry open grasslands of Sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority inhabiting natural reserves or parks.
- Cheetahs are carnivores, so rely on meat for survival. Their diet is made up primarily of smaller antelopes including springbok, steenbok, Thomson’s gazelle, impalas, and duiker. Cheetahs will also feed on wildebeest calves and, occasionally, smaller animals including rabbits, hares and birds
- Cheetahs have evolved to live in an environment where water is scarce, and can survive on one drink every three to four days
- Female cheetahs are solitary, living alone or with their young. Males however, live in small family groups of 2–3 brothers, known as coalitions
- The Amur Leopard is one of the rarest felines in the world. They are speedy creatures able to run up to 35 miles per hour, faster than Usain Bolt!
- Cheetahs are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. With around 10,000–12,000 individuals left in the wild, cheetahs are Africa’s most endangered big cat.Historically, cheetahs have been hunted for their fur, but today some of the biggest threats to their survival are loss of habitat, and competition for resources. Cheetahs require large areas of land for survival, so increased human settlements and road construction in their habitat puts them at risk.
- Female cheetahs 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
- Cheetahs start reproducing at a young age; males at the age of one and females at two. There is no specific breeding season and cheetahs will mate with many individuals throughout their lifetimes.Male cheetahs do not remain with the females after mating, and do not play any role in rearing young. Female cheetahs on the other hand are caring, affectionate and dedicated mothers. Following a pregnancy of three months, female cheetahs will give birth to a litter of 2–8 cubs in a secluded spot such as a rocky outcrop or marshy area with tall grass.Cubs are vulnerable to predators, and many do not survive the first year. Initially, mothers leave the cubs hidden whilst hunting, but cubs will start accompanying her at around six weeks.
- The cheetah has a long, muscular tail that has a flat shape. The tail almost functions like a rudder on a boat because they use it to help control their steering and keep their balance when running very fast
- The cheetah has “semi non-retractable” claws (almost like dog claws) that work like the cleats on a football shoe to give the cheetah a lot of traction when running. The pads of most cats’ paws are soft, but the cheetah’s pads are hard kind of like the rubber on a tire. This also helps them grip the ground when they are running so fast
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