Interesting Facts About Cheetahs: Fastest Land Animal!

Cheetah is the type of wild cat, best known as the fastest animal on the planet. Cheetah lives in the grasslands, savannas and semi-arid area that have enough open space and plenty of prey. Biggest population of cheetah lives in Africa.
Cheetahs can be also found in Asia. Both groups of cheetahs are endangered, especially Asian type (critically endangered) with only 250 remaining animals in the wild. Their number decreased significantly in the last twenty years due to habitat loss and poaching.
Sadly, this beautiful animal is threatened by loss of habitat and prey, as well as conflict with humans. As a result, the cheetah is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red list, and, today, an estimated 9,000-12,000 remain in Africa.
Here are some interesting facts about cheetahs:
1. Cheetahs are diurnal (active during the day) animals. These fierce felines hunt during the day to avoid competition from other powerful predators such as lions, hyenas and leopards. And boy, can they hunt!
First, they use their exceptional eyesight to scan their surroundings before quietly stalking their chosen prey. Then, when the time is right, they sprint from cover, knock down their victim and kill it with a bite to the throat.
They choose the day because most animals in Africa hunt during the night, when the temperature drops down. Cheetahs are much weaker than other African cats and predators, which readily steal their food. Daily hunt minimizes the chances of losing the prey.
2. Fully-grown cheetah can reach 4 feet in length and 2 to 3 feet in height at the shoulder. It can weigh between 75 and 145 pounds. Their tail is usually 30 inches long.
3. Cheetah is easily recognized by its orange fur covered with black spots and two black lines called “black tears”, which run from the inside of their eyes. Scientists believe that “black tears” prevent cheetah’s eyes from a harsh African sun and help them see on the long distance.
4. Cheetah hunts different animals: warthogs, rabbits, francolins, gazelles, antelopes, impalas, porcupines, springhares and even ostriches.
5. Cheetah is the fastest runner on the planet. It runs 70 miles per hour, and achieves the speed from zero to 60 mph in only three seconds. It runs two times faster than the racing horse.
6. Cheetah drinks water every 3 to 4 days because it absorbs part of the water from the food.
7. Cheetah runs very fast, but it can’t run for a very long time. After 400 to 600 yards, it becomes exhausted and needs to take a rest. Fast running requires a lot of energy and it is especially hard when outer temperature is high.
If cheetah catch an animal during the quick chase, it will take a rest (regain normal body temperature and slow down the breath) while it holds and suffocates the prey.
8. Unlike most other cats, cheetah is not a good tree climber. Also, it is the only cat which cannot roar.
9. Cheetah’s tail is essential during fast running, because it balances the animal and allows fast and sudden turns that occur often when the prey tries to escape.
10. Cheetah is very vocal animal that can growl, hiss, snarl, moan, bleat and purr. They use facial expression to show their mood.
11. Cheetahs usually mate during the dry season, resulting in pregnancy that lasts three months and ends at the beginning of the wet season (when the food sources are rich).
12. Female cheetahs are solitary animals, while males live in the small groups composed of brothers (called “coalitions”). Usually only one brother from the group mates with females during the mating season.
13. Female gives birth of 3 to 5 cubs weighing only five to ten ounces. They spend first weeks of their life in the den. This time is the most critical for their survival because mother needs to leave the cubs during the hunt. Cub mortality rate is very high – 90%.
14. Five to six week’s old cheetahs accompany their mother in hunt and stay with her until they reach 18 months.

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