Species: A. jubatus
Common Names: Cheetah
Cheetahs are renowned for their speed; they are the fastest land animal on Earth. They can reach speeds over 65 miles per hour in short bursts. They use their speed to help capture prey, sneaking up on it slowly and then running at a fast speed once they gets close enough.
Cheetahs hunt mostly during the day, unlike other large cats that share their range, such as lions and leopards that usually hunt at night. This helps the cheetah keep its prey from being stolen by the larger cat species.
Cheetahs usually prey on antelopes, of a variety of different species.
Cheetahs can breed at any time during the year. Males will fight for the chance to mate with females. Pregnancy lasts for almost three months, after which between one and eight cubs are born.
Cubs have shaggy fur on their heads and backs that is called a “mantle”. This fur is later shed. Its purpose isn’t exactly known, but some studies suggest it might help the cubs look like honey badgers, an animal that most predators don’t like to mess with.
Cheetahs grow to just over three feet high at the shoulder, and can measure almost five feet in length (not including the tail). They are very slender animals, weighing between 50 and 150 pounds.
Cheetahs have a slim build, with a small head, thin legs and a long tail. Their fur is a sandy yellow color, with small black spots covering their body.
The cheetah’s closest relative is the mountain lion, or puma. It is sometimes considered a member of the “big cats”, a group that contains large cat species such as the lion, tiger, jaguar, and leopard of the genus Panthera. However, unlike those large cats, cheetahs cannot roar.
Cheetahs are not usually aggressive toward people. There is a long history of cheetahs being tamed by humans, first seen in cave paintings from over 30,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians also tamed cheetahs, using them to hunt with the help of dogs.