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Cheetah Facts & Info

Cheetah Facts & Info

top speed cheetah

Top Speed

Cheetah's are the fastest land animals reaching a top speed of 112 km/h.

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Cheetah Tail

Incredibly their tails grow upto 65 to 80 cm long.

cheetah facts

Weight & Height

Large animals, their bodies can be a astonishing 1.1 to 1.4 m long and weigh between 34 and 54 kg.

Size Comparison between Cheetah & Leopad

cheetah vs leopard comparison picture
cheetah vs leopard size comparison
cheetah's distribution throughout africa map
  • It is estimated that each Cheetah can have upto 2000 black spots
  • Females are not territorial and may roam over home areas upto 50 and 3000 sq km
  • In the 1900's approximately 100 000 Cheetahs roamed freely
  • Today it is estimated that only 9000 to 12000 roam freely in Africa
  • Only half of hunts that last between 20 to 60 seconds are successful

Cheetah Facts & Info

Scientific Name of Cheetah: Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus

This beautiful slender and sleek looking cat has some very impressive bragging rights as the fastest land mammal on the planet! This amazingly fast animal can reach speeds of up to 112km/h.

Being able to run so fast though has a few downfalls:

1. the speed can only be maintained at top speed for short distances.

2. A cheetah is absolutely exhausted after an exertion run, the cheetah’s body temperatures will rise and the animal will have to find some shade and will need to rest and cool down.

Evolutionary wise Cheetahs have made some amazing adaptations to be able to run at such extreme speeds. Cheetahs have larger hearts, larger lungs, larger nostrils and elongated spine with a long tail for balance it’s even said that semi retractable claws are used like spikes which gives the animal extra added traction. These claws identical in ligament structure to that of a Lion or Leopard lacks a sheath covering and fur that other cats have to retract them.

imfolozi cheetah

Cheetahs have also been known to swim, although they do not like to. The Cheetah is not one of the Great Cats, because it does not have a floating Hyoid bone in its neck it cannot roar, therefore it is a Lesser Cat.

The South African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), also known as the Namibian cheetah, is the most numerous and the nominate cheetah subspecies native to Southern Africa. Since 1986, it has been classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN. There were 550 to 850 cheetahs left in South Africa in 2007.

Male cheetahs are the more social, spending most of their lives in small groups called "coalitions", while females live with their youngsters until they are independent and rarely associate with adult cheetahs other than for brief breeding encounters.

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Females usually give birth to between two to eight cubs at a time. She nurses her youngsters in a lair hidden by tall vegetation, until they are 16 to 24 months old and able look after themselves.

Baby cheetahs are called cubs and are usually born in litters of three to five. They are blind at birth and are covered with a thick coat of fur, called a mantle, which helps to protect them from predators. Cub mortality rates are (about 90%) and habitat loss are definitely not contributing to their vulnerable status. Cheetah cubs are predated on by any large predator and even eagles.

cheetah cub hluhluwe

Cheetahs are often confused with their cat counterparts the leopard, but there are some keys differences that will help tell the two apart:

Telling Cheetah's apart from Leopards

Cheetahs are considerably smaller and slimmer than leopards, they also have black streaks running down its face from the eyes, and cheetahs have spots, whereas leopards have rosettes.

Cheetahs are carnivores .Cheetah will mainly prey on smaller antelope such as impala but have been known to take down bulkier animals such as the young of zebra and Wildebeest. Coalitions or small groups of cheetah group together have also seen taking adult Zebra and Wildebeest on. Cheetah however, after the exertions runs are not strong enough to defend their catch from other hungry easy meal seeking predators. Cheetahs lose up to 50% of their well deserved kill to Lions, Leopard, Hyenas and Wild dog. Cheetahs try and adapt to this by hunting in the heat of the day when other predators are sleeping softly.

Cheetahs can be found in open plains, woodland, savannah, highlands up to 2,000 m, and arid regions extending to desert fringes.  Habitat is determined more by abundance of prey and lack of other big predators, but a balance of cover and visibility is important.

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Cheetah Facts & Info


Cheetah Cub Facts

  1. Baby Cheetah's are called Cubs, born into litters of 3 to 5 cubs.
  2. Born Blind and remain so for upto 10 Days
  3. At birth they have a thick coat of fur, called a mantle this is purely for protection from predators.
  4. In the wild Cubs have an extremely high mortality rate approximately 90%.
  5. It is estimated that up to 75 % of cubs die before reaching 3 months old.
cheetah cub facts

The Cheetah Cub's mantle is shed gradually over the first year. Half of its life is used in learning to become a independent hunter. After about 4 months the cubs have the look a like spotty coat of that of a adult. At 15 months old it would have reached its full adult size and will also have a white tip on its tail.

Cheetah Cub's Diet

Cubs nurse for 3 months, and may start eating meat from as early as 3 weeks. At 6 weeks the cubs will start following their mother on hunts learning how to hunt in various environments.

Cheetah Cub's Social Development

Adult Cheetah's are primarily solitary animals however it is not uncommon for siblings to hunt together especially brothers and this may continue throughout their lives making large game hunts possible such as Zebra and even Wildebeest.

Cheetah Life Span

Cheetahs average life span in captivity is 10 to 12 years, in the wild few survive 8 years how ever they may live upto 12 years in the wild.

When do Cheetahs Hunt

Unlike Lions and Leopards that do also hunt during the night Cheetahs hunt during the day only. This is primarily due to the fact that Cheetahs have poor night vision, Cheetahs cannot Climb Trees. During the day however Cheetahs have incredible sight during the day and may spot their prey as far as 5 km away.

Cheetah Eye's

Cheetahs have tear marks under their eyes that run to the edges of their mouths. These marks are incredibly important as they assist with reflecting the glare of the sun during a hunt during daylight hours. It's almost like a sight on a gun assisting with the aim and staying focused while hunting.

Cheetah Male Group

A group of Male Cheetahs are called a Coalition, usually brothers.

Cheetah Hunting Information

With their incredible speed hunts usually last 20 seconds. This makes it important for Cheetahs to Stalk their prey as close a possible which may be as close as 6 meters.

cheetah eye markings

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Heritage Tours & Safaris departs on Safari into the oldest proclaimed reserve in Africa ( Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park) each day why not join us and discover this incredible and magnificent reserve. They offer a wide variety of day safari options as well as overnight safari packages that includes all the highlights of KwaZulu Natal.