August 13, 2013

Animal Profile: Cheetah

Pop quiz, kids. What is the fastest land animal on earth? Here’s a hint. The title of this blog gives it away. That’s right. A cheetah is the fastest animal on earth, able to run at speeds of over 60 miles per hour!

The cheetah has a sleek, powerful body that in many ways resembles a greyhound dog. A cheetah’s coat is golden-tan with black spots, much like a leopard’s. However, there is an easy way to tell the difference between a cheetah and a leopard. Cheetahs have a distinct black line that runs from their eyes to the corners of the mouth that leopards do not have.

Notice the black lines running from the eyes to the mouth.

Notice the black lines running from the eyes to the mouth.

Cheetahs use their blazing speed to catch prey. Their diet consists of smaller animals such as impalas, wildebeest calves and gazelles. They have poor night vision, so they hunt during the day. Female cheetahs have 2-4 cubs and typically raise the cubs by themselves while males live alone or in very small groups.

Here’s something you may not have known: Cheetahs do not roar like other big cats. They actually purr like a house cat.

Cheetah Facts:
Top Recorded Speed: 64 mph
Height: 30 or more inches at the shoulder
Weight: 70-140 pounds
Tail Length: 20-30 inches

The number of cheetahs has decreased from 100,000 in the early 1900s to approximately 10,000 today. They live mostly in Africa, with a small population (probably less than 100) remaining in Iran. Cheetahs are on the endangered species list.

Cheetah drinking_Web

Do you care about protecting the world’s last cheetahs and other big cats? Click here to lean how you can help through National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative.

And also check out this amazing video of a cheetah running in slow motion!