What Are the Facts About Cheetahs for Kids?

  1. Cheetahs are the fastest land animal on Earth.

Cheetahs are capable of reaching speeds of up to 75 mph. They usually only get up to these speeds in short sprints as they attack their prey, with a cheetah’s average speed being around 40 mph. However, they also have an incredibly high acceleration, with the ability to go from 0 to 60 mph in only 3 seconds! The fastest run was recorded by a cheetah named Sarah, who lives at Cincinnati Zoo, as she ran the 100-meter dash in 5.95 seconds.

  1. Cheetahs have around 2000 spots.

A cheetah is one of the first animals that come to mind when we think of spotted animals. Cheetahs have approximately 2000 spots, and it is possible to identify cheetahs in wildlife management according to their unique locations and patterns.

  1. Cheetahs use their spotted coat as a disguise.

Cheetahs’ spots cover nearly all of their bodies and are thought to reinforce camouflage by providing contrast to gray-hued grasses. Cheetah cubs need masks not only to stalk prey but also to protect themselves from predators. Each cheetah has unique spots and ring patterns around its tail, like a human fingerprint.

  1. The word “cheetah” comes from Hindi.

The cheetah comes from the Hindi word “Chita,” which means “spotted one.”

  1. Only male cheetahs are social.

Males cheetahs have been known to form coalitions of 2-3 so that they can defend as much land as possible. 70% of these coalitions are made up of brothers, but occasionally they include outsiders. Males are generally not territorial towards each other but can be towards other unions or solitary males.

On the other hand, female cheetahs’ Mothers with cubs tend to stay within a short distance of one another.

  1. Cheetahs can give birth to 2-8 cubs at a time.

A cheetah’s gestation period is only 90-95 days, and a mother can give birth to anywhere from 2 to 8 cubs at a time! Unfortunately, this is due to a high cub mortality rate in the wild and captivity. Cheetah cubs have a dusty-gray coloring with long hair running down their backs, called a mantle. On average, they are about 12 inches long and weigh just 0.75 lbs at birth. After six weeks, the young are strong enough to join the hunt; they can practice killing live prey at six months.

  1. Cheetahs don’t roar.

Unlike most other big cats, such as lions and tigers, cheetahs can’t roar.

The cheetah’s voice box bones are structured the same as that of “small” cats, which means they meow! Although this design allows the cats to purr continuously, it limits the range of other sounds they can make and prevents them from roaring.

Despite not being able to roar, cheetahs can make various sounds. For example, researchers have found that male cheetahs have been known to make a “stuttering sound” when trying to impress a female. They will also growl and hiss when feeling threatened and let out a loud yelp when wanting to signal a warning.

  1. There are five types of cheetahs.

There are five different subspecies of cheetah, these include;

  • Asiatic cheetah
  • Northwest African cheetah
  • South African cheetah
  • Sudan cheetah
  • Tanzanian cheetah

The Asiatic and Northwest African cheetahs are listed as critically endangered. Although the number of cheetahs in Sudan and Tanzania is higher, the population has declined in recent years.

  1. Cheetahs have excellent eyesight.

As well as speed, cheetahs have an excellent sense of vision, which enables them to spot and chase prey from 3 miles away. Cheetahs also have black tear marks called malar stripes that run from their eyes down the sides of their face. This feature attracts the sun away from the eyes and stops the glaring sun from obstructing their view. You can see the same strategy used when football players put black streaks under their eyes.

  1. Cheetahs only hunt during the day.

Cheetahs are crepuscular hunters, which means they hunt at dusk and dawn. However, it’s believed that cheetahs have adapted to hunt during the day, unlike most other big cats, so as not to compete with the likes of lions, hyenas, and leopards. Another risk of night hunting is kleptoparasitism, in which another animal steals the catch.

  1. The cheetah’s body has adapted for speed.

We all know now that cheetahs are fast, but did you know the number of ways their bodies have evolved for them to become the world’s fastest animal? Cheetahs generally weigh around 125 pounds, making them lightweight and easy to accelerate. They have a small head, lean legs, and a flat rib cage to make them more aerodynamic by minimizing air resistance. Their semi-retractable claws and hard foot pads help their feet maintain traction, while their long tail is used to stabilize and steer the body. A cheetah’s skeleton acts as a spring, with its unusually flexible spine and hips and free-moving shoulder blades. Because running as fast as this requires lots of oxygen, their nasal passages and lungs are enlarged to help intake more air. As a result, cheetahs can breathe up to 150 times per minute while running, up from 60 breaths per minute at rest.

  1. Cheetahs live up to 10 years in the wild.

A cheetah’s lifespan is around 10 to 12 years in the wild, but it can reach up to 20 years or longer in captivity. A female cheetah in Birmingham Zoo named Dolly held the record for the oldest cheetah raised in captivity. Unfortunately, she died in 2009 after reaching the grand old age of 18 years old. Some unverified sources claim the oldest cheetah lived to be 27 years old!

  1. Can survive up to 10 days without water

The average cheetah consumes 6-8 pounds of food per day. However, in some cases, they can go as long as 4-10 days without water. This is because they hydrate from the moisture from the bodies of their prey. The cheetah’s diet consists of a wide range of game, from rabbits, wildebeest calves, birds, warthogs, and many more.

  1. Keeping a cheetah as a pet in the USA is illegal.

Cheetahs are incredibly rare in the U.S. and aren’t very common even in zoos since they are difficult to breed or import. Additionally, keeping them as pets is illegal in the United States.

  1. Cheetahs are not natural climbers.

Although a member of the big cat family, it’s quite uncommon to see a cheetah up in a tree. Cheetahs have non-retractable claws like dogs, which gives them a speed advantage but limits their tree-climbing abilities. Despite this, they will occasionally venture up a tree to gain height to see the surrounding area since most of their habitat is thick bush.

  1. Cheetahs used to be sacred in Ancient Egypt.

In Ancient Egypt, pharaohs often kept Cheetahs as pets and hunting companions, as depicted in paintings and statues. Not only that but they would usually be buried with their owners after their death, as it was thought that the cheetah’s speed would take the pharaoh’s soul to the afterlife. There was even believed to be an Egyptian Goddess named Mafdet, who was often pictured with a cheetah’s head.

  1. The population of cheetahs is only around 7000.

The population of cheetahs has severely declined over recent decades due to habitat conversion for agriculture, illegal hunting, and loss of prey species. As a result, it is estimated that there are only 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild, and their future is uncertain throughout their range.

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