The Speedy Spotted Cheetah

by: Mrs. Kimble

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DID YOU KNOW THAT THE CHEETAH IS THE SWIFTEST LAND MAMMAL AT 60 MPH?

APPEARANCE

The cheetah has a lean body with clean, yellow, tan and brownish spotted fur. There are 20,000- 30,000 small black spots on the cheetah. It's tail is looped with ring that end at the small black tip of the tail. It's eyes are located high on its head, which helps him see it's prey in the tall grass. The cheetah has small pointed ears and a nose with large nostrils that helps provide oxygen to their enormous lungs. They have semi-retractable claws and small pads on their feet that help amazingly with traction. Cheetahs also have a VERY flexible and STRONG spine that can hyper-extend enabling them to take a longer stride. They have a slim waist and long legs that help them run fast. Cheetahs can be weigh anywhere from 77 to 143 lbs, they are 6 to 7 1/2 feet long, and 3 feet tall.
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DIET

Cheetahs are truly carnivorous animals depending on nothing but meat. They hunt gazelle, antelope, zebra, wildebeest calves, hare, rabbit, warthogs, impalas, puku, guinea fowl, birds, and other small mammals. Because of the lack of water, cheetahs survive on 1 drink of water every 3 to 4 days. They hunt prey by knocking the animal down to the ground and biting it on the neck.

Habitat

Cheetahs live in open grasslands in Africa and Asia. Some are found in eastern and southern Africa, little are found in Iran, and many are found in sub-Saharan Africa. The highest population of wild cheetahs is found in Namibia in SW Africa.

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Interesting Facts

Cheetahs are known for their fast speed, and they should be! They are the fastest land mammal in the world! They can reach 70 mph in three seconds! Surprisingly, the quickest animal needs help. Cheetahs are endangered all over the world, with only about 8,500 left in the wild. They are protected by law in most countries where they live. Their biggest threat is losing their habitat. Females actually "chirp" to beckon their young. Cheetahs are the only cats that do not have retractable claws. Though called so, cheetah's are one of the only big cats that cannot roar. Cheetahs will purr, hiss, whine, and GROWL!

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Behaviors

A cheetah's top speed is enough to win it 4th place on "The Top 10 Fastest Animals On Earth" list. It's next to the sail fish in 3rd, the frigate bird in 2nd, and the peregrine falcon in 1st. How fast is top speed you wonder? Anywhere from 60-80 mph! The cheetah prefers to hunt by day, for they have "tear marks" that help them see. Speaking of hunting, males hunt alone or in coalitions, (small groups) while females hunt alone or with their young. Many people think cheetahs are filthy creatures, but the cats are actually very clean, because just like other cats, cheetahs lick themselves daily. Females make their home space large, and it may even overlap with other homes, while males prefer much smaller territory.
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Predators

The cheetah does not have many predators. This fierce cat is rarely threatened except by lions, eagles, hyenas, leopards, and the overall threat, humans that hunt the animal for it's fur.

Family Life/ Life Cycle

Typically 3 to 5 cubs are born at a time. These cubs are live born and they are fed milk until they are 3 to 4 weeks old. After that time period, the female gets meat for them until they are 6 weeks old, then they will start learning to hunt. The cub will learn until it's 1 year old. They have gray fur, and it will be 3 1/2-4 months until they turn their typical colors. The females live alone except for mothers with young. She raises the cubs on her own because after the matting season, the male goes to live alone or with litter mates. After the the cubs have learned to hunt they will start hunting by themselves. At the age of 1 1/2 to 2 years, the not so little cheetah cub will say good bye to it's family and leave. In the wild, the cheetah will live until it is 10 to 12 years old.

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