Friday, February 25, 2011

Fascinating Facts About Cheetah

  • The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a very fast sprinter. When chasing prey, it can top speeds over 60 miles an hour (97 km). This makes the cheetah the fastest land animal around! And what is the cheetah's top speed? The average top speed of cheetahs is about 64 miles an hour (102 km), and scientists feel this is also a good measurement of how fast a typical cheetah can run.
  • For such a swift cat, a cheetah's body is not very long (only about 4 ft/1 m). Even so, in just one bound it can travel 20 feet (6 m), by using its long legs and flexible spine. According to researchers, it's thought that the cheetah's flexible spine alone enables the animal to run an extra 6 miles an hour (9.6 km).
  • Cheetahs belong to the Felidae family, and unlike lions, cannot roar. Cheetahs can purr, however, as well as hiss, growl, whine, and call to each other with chirping birdlike sounds.
  • On average, cheetahs chase their prey for about ten seconds. The shorter the chase the better, for all the dust and movement might attract the attention of lions and hyenas-- animals that might decide to take their kills from them.
  • The famous "tear marks" at the corners of the eyes, are a dead giveaway that what you're looking at is a cheetah, and not a leopard. Cheetahs have solid black spots on a background of yellow or tan fur, and have 4 to 6 black rings at the end of its tail. A combination of spot patterns and ring patterns are a way for humans to identify one cheetah from another.
  • Just as athletes apply black grease under their eyes to cut down on the glare from brilliant lights, it is thought that the black markings running down the corners of the cheetah's eyes to its mouth might serve a similar purpose. Unlike lions and leopards, cheetahs hunt mostly during the day, when such antiglare aids would be most helpful.
  • It's rare for cheetahs to climb trees. They can jump onto low hanging branches and fallen trees, but adult cheetahs are not good climbers.
  • Cheetahs hunt in a sequence of maneuvers known as "chase-trip-bite." After stalking its prey until it gets within a close range, the cheetah suddenly rushes its victim in a surprise attack. Using the only sharp claw on it's front paw-- the dewclaw-- the cheetah trips the animal, and then clamps down on the animal's throat until it suffocates. The chase over, the cheetah must rest and catch it's breath, all the while keeping an eye out for lions and hyenas, and then feast on its fresh kill.
  • Hunting is an acquired skill, and young cheetahs learn by watching their mother. In Kenya, at the Masai Mara game reserve, a mother cheetah was seen capturing a baby gazelle unharmed, and then taking it back to her cheetah cubs. When the baby gazelle tried to escape, the mother cheetah coaxed her cubs to chase it. When they failed, the mother brought the baby back to her cubs again and again, until her young began to learn how to hunt. The cubs must learn all they can from their mother, for after 18 months, they will be on their own.

  • A variation of the cheetah is the king cheetah. King cheetahs have black splotches on their coats instead of spots, and they have black stripes running down their backs. Kings are very rare in the wild, the last having been "spotted" in the 1990's. It is thought that there are 30 kings in existence, 10 of them living in the wild. Once thought to be a different species, we now know that kings are simply a mutant form of the cheetah.

  • While cheetahs prefer to chase their prey on the open plains, king cheetahs can be found in forests, stalking their next meal. Cheetahs hunt during the day, while kings hunt at night. Since splotches are better camouflage for partially lit environments, the coats of king cheetahs are better suited to shady forests.
  • Cheetahs were listed as an endangered species on June 2, 1970.
  • Can you guess? Cheetahs can go from 0 to 45 mph (72 km) in how many seconds? 
2 Seconds!!!
  • At the end of a chase, cheetahs can take up to 150 breaths in one minute. Their respiration is so fast, it's hard for people to count them individually.
  • Cheetahs are not strongly built cats, and are unable to defend their kills from lions and hyenas. When they do make a successful kill, cheetahs will gorge themselves because it may be some time until they eat again. Normally, cheetahs only get to eat every one to three days.

For more fascinating facts, click here Cheetah

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