Cheetahs - Everything You Need to Know | The Big Cat Sanctuary

A guide to Cheetahs

Everything you need to know

What is a Cheetah?

A cheetah is a large, carnivorous mammal renowned for its exceptional speed and agility. Cheetahs can reach speeds up to 70 miles per hour (113 kilometers per hour), making them the fastest land animals. Cheetahs are carnivores, feeding mainly on small to medium-sized hoofed animals such as gazelles and impalas.


What family does the Cheetah belong to?

The cheetah is a member of the Puma lineage which falls under the Felidae family. It’s scientific name is Acinonyx jubatus


What does a Cheetah look like?

The cheetah has a very distinct look! They have a sleek, streamlined body built for speed. Their tan or yellowish coat is adorned with round, solid spots unique to each cheetah. They also have distinctive tear stripes running from their eyes to their mouth, which help reduce glare and improve their focus on prey.


How big is a Cheetah?

Cheetahs are medium-sized cats, with males weighing between 100 to 145 pounds (45 to 65 kilograms) and females weighing around 75 to 110 pounds (34 to 50 kilograms). They measure about 3.5 to 4.5 feet (1.1 to 1.4 meters) in length, excluding their tail.


What is a baby Cheetah called?

A baby cheetah is called a cub.


In what countries can you find a Cheetah?

Cheetahs are primarily found in various countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They inhabit a range of habitats such as grasslands, savannas, and semi-arid areas. Some of the countries where cheetahs can be found include Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Angola. Historically, cheetahs had a wider distribution that extended into parts of the Middle East and India, but their populations in those regions have significantly declined. 


What does a Cheetah eat?

Cheetahs are carnivorous animals, meaning they primarily feed on meat. Their diet consists of small to medium-sized hoofed mammals. Some of the common prey species for cheetahs include gazelles, impalas, springboks, and other similar-sized antelopes. Cheetahs face competition from other predators, such as lions and hyenas, which may steal their kills. In some cases, cheetahs may also scavenge or feed on smaller prey like hares and birds when the opportunity arises.


How fast can a Cheetah run?

As the world’s fastest land animal the cheetah can reach speeds of up to 70 mph for short periods! If that isn’t amazing by itself, they can go from 0-60mph in 3 seconds.


Are there any animals faster than a Cheetah?

While cheetahs are known for being the fastest land animals, there are other animals that can outrun them in specific situations. Cheetahs are the fastest on land in terms of acceleration and short burst sprints.


What noise does a Cheetah make?

Cheetahs arent big cats so they cannot roar, instead they have a range of other vocalisations they use for communication. Chirping and Purring are often made in friendly interactions whereas growling and hissing are used when feeling threatened or agitated.


How long can a Cheetah live for?

The average lifespan of wild cheetahs is 8 to 10 years. In captivity, the average lifespan is 12 to 15 years.


What is a Cheetah’s habitat?

Cheetahs primarily inhabit various habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in open grasslands, savannas, and semi-arid regions. These environments provide the cheetahs with the necessary characteristics for their hunting style and physical adaptations. The presence of tall grass or scattered bushes provides cover for stalking and ambush tactics.


Cheetah pregnant for?

Cheetahs have a gestation (pregnancy) period of between 90-95 days and litters range in size from 1-6 cubs. Cubs will often stay with their mother until they are 16-24 months old.


Does the Cheetah have any natural predators?

Although cheetahs are formidable hunters, they face threats from other predators in their vulnerable stages of life. Cheetahs, especially cubs, are occasionally targeted by lions, Hyenas and Leopards particularly in areas where their territories overlap. Lions may kill cheetahs to eliminate competition for resources whereas, leopards and hyenas may do so opportunistically.


Why are Cheetahs endangered?

Cheetahs are considered an endangered species due to various factors that have contributed to their declining population. Here are some key reasons why cheetahs are endangered:

  1. Habitat Loss: The conversion of natural habitats into agricultural land, human settlements, and infrastructure development has resulted in the loss of suitable habitats for cheetahs. This fragmentation disrupts their range and restricts their ability to find prey and establish territories.
  2. Decline in Prey Availability: Cheetahs rely on a healthy population of prey species, such as gazelles and antelopes, for their survival. Overhunting, competition with livestock, and habitat degradation have led to a decline in prey availability, making it harder for cheetahs to find sufficient food.
  3. Human-Wildlife Conflict: As cheetahs’ habitats overlap with human settlements and agricultural areas, conflicts arise due to livestock predation. Farmers sometimes kill cheetahs to protect their livestock, further endangering the species.
  4. Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade: Cheetahs are targeted by poachers for their skin, bones, and other body parts, which are traded illegally. The demand for cheetahs as exotic pets also contributes to their illegal trade, as capturing and keeping them in captivity is detrimental to their wild populations.

The cheetah population is believed to be around 9,000-12,000 in Africa which has led to them being classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.


What is the difference between a Cheetah & a Leopard?

Cheetahs and leopards are often mistaken. It’s understandable as they both can be found in Africa! To help you spot a cheetah from a leopard you can look for these key differences:


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