The cheetah is the fastest land animal on the planet. It typically hunts during the day, chasing prey at speeds up to 70 miles per hour. Cheetahs live in eastern and southwestern Africa and parts of the Middle East. They reside in vast lands, such as savannahs, prairies, and grasslands.
- The cheetah can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in just three seconds. That is faster than most cars.
- Centuries ago, cheetahs were held in high regard among native people, who trained them for hunting. The ancient Egyptians kept them as pets.
- Cheetahs are one of the few members of the cat family with semi-retractable claws.
- A cheetah can purr, but not roar.
Cheetahs usually prey on small antelopes, zebras, and other mammals. They sneak up on their prey, then explode into action, chasing the animal and knocking it to the ground. After making a kill, cheetahs eat fast and keep an eye out for scavengers. They prefer to eat in the early morning or late at night, and females always hunt alone.
Overall, cheetahs are independent animals, and they often like to spend time alone, particularly the females. Female cheetahs live alone, and mothers raise their cubs on their own. Male cheetahs are more likely to bond with a small group, often their siblings, and spend their lives together. Cheetahs communicate by making a number of different calls, including a noise that sounds a lot like a bird chirping.
Cheetahs usually give birth to three to five cubs, but can have as many as nine. They live with their cubs for at least a year, teaching them how to hunt in the wild. Once the cubs are 18 months old, their mother leaves, and the cubs live together a while longer.
Cheetahs are a vulnerable species because their natural habitat is shrinking. Experts believe there are only 7,000-10,000 cheetahs left. A typical, healthy cheetah will live for about 10 to 12 years in its natural environment.