Here I’m bringing you some of the most fascinating information about cheetahs for kids. The information embraces all essential facts about cheetah’s diet, habitat, migratory behavior, and its hunting technique. Cheetah, the fastest land animal on earth, can sprint up to 96 km/h (60 mph) for a short part of its chase. A handful number of these cats are left in the southern Asia and they primarily live in most of Africa and Middle East. Cheetahs are believed to have evolved in Africa. Cheetah claims to have a small head and flattened ears in the cat family. They largely prey on impalas, gazelles, wildebeest calves, and other hoofed mammals weighing up to 40 kg (88 lb) or less. Hares also form an essential part of the cheetah’s diet in certain areas.
Information about Cheetahs
Cheetahs are the ambush hunters and they do not stalk until the prey is within 30 meters (100 feet). Not many chases are successful rather only one-half claims to be so. The average chase of cheetah lasts for up to 20 seconds only while covering a distance of 170 meters (550 feet). The prey is killed by suffocation while biting underside of the throat. The adult cheetah typically consumes 2.8 kg (6.2 lb) of meat each day. Cheetahs do not drink water frequently rather it can go by three to four days without drinking. Sometimes, they drink as infrequent as once in 10 days.
Size | Information about Cheetahs
The head-and-body length of cheetah measures around 112 – 135 cm (44 – 53 inches); while the tail is up to 66 – 84 cm (26 – 33 inches) long. They weigh around 39 – 65 kg (86 – 143 lb). Males are slightly larger than females.
Cheetah is characterized by its tawny coat being dominated by round black spots. Face marked by conspicuous “tear stripes” running from the corner of the eyes down sides of nose; cubs under three months old blackish, with a mantle of long blue-gray hair on top of the back and neck.
Reproduction | Information about Cheetahs
Cheetahs become mature at about 20 – 23 months old. They have no regular breeding season and cubs seem to born all year-round. The female litters 1 to 8 young (3 on an average). The weight of the cubs measure around 250 – 300 grams (8 – 11 oz), with the length measuring up to 30 c (12 inches). The cubs are born blind and helpless and they begin to see after 2 – 11 days. Once the cubs become 5 – 6 months old, they start following their mother while she hunts. Males contribute little or no part in raising cubs. Weaning takes place in about three months of age. The mortality rate in cubs is higher and only one-third reaches to adulthood.
The female cheetahs are solitary but they do have cubs with them. Females are less gregarious as compared to males and the latter fancy living in permanent groups which may comprise of littermates.
Cheetahs of the Serengeti
Spacing behavior among cheetahs shows how they exploit their habitat and prey. Adult female cheetahs (with or without cubs) migrate annually over a home range of about 800 sq. km (310 sq. mile) in areas such as the Serengeti in East Africa, where prey species are migratory. Each adult female travels her home range in an annual cycle and appears to use the same area year after year.
Home Range | Information about Cheetahs
Cheetah begins to live independently from their mothers when they are 13 – 20 months old. However, they will stay with their mother for about seven months or longer. Female cheetahs typically avoid each other though they are not territorial. Adult females are neither aggressive towards other females but also towards males; when they sight other female or male they try to disappear in the jungle faraway. Their mutual avoidance means that non-related or distantly-related females, as well as close relatives, have home ranges that overlap each other, but in which they rarely interact.
Adult male cheetahs normally leave their mother’s home range in the form of groups. They are often chased away by older and territorial males. The young males are known to spread some 20 km (12 miles) farther from their mother’s home range. Adult male littermates are known to stay together all throughout the life while non-littermates rarely join together but when they do so they are in groups of 2 – 4.
Cheetah’s Territories | Information about Cheetahs
The territories which the male cheetah occupies in Serengeti cover about 30 sq. km (12 sq. miles). Territorial males do not migrate 50 – 80 km (30 – 50 miles) to follow the prey, as the females do, when there is not enough food or water within the territory they temporarily to leave to feed and drink nearby. Solitary male cheetahs typically hold their territories for about four years after which they are often killed by stronger males, or a group of males, or a lone male, or males in coalition.
The male cheetahs prefer to live, hunt and eat in small groups because they can successfully establish and defend their territories while living in groups than that of as solitary males. Adult males typically hold territories which are dominated by moderate vegetation such as bush drainages and woodlands.
All male cheetahs are not territorial as there are some that seem to be nomadic. These nomadic males, when encountered with territorial cheetahs, are ousted by the latter. One fight sighted between a group of three territorial males with a group of three intruding males began when the territorial males chased and caught one of the intruders. All three territorial males combatted with the intruder, biting him constantly all over his body and pulling out mouthfuls of fur. Consequently, one of the territorial males caused a suffocating bite on the underside of the neck, which is the bite used in killing prey.
The territorial males instantly chased the other two intruders after killing the first intruder. Those two other intruders were watching from a distance of about 275 meters (300 yards). This implies that the social system of male cheetahs limit the density of cheetahs and as the population increases, these territorial males will claim more and more habitats thereby leading to excessive deaths.
A rate of Acceleration | Information about Cheetahs
A rate of acceleration as compared to that of high-powered sports car allows cheetah to outrun all other animals in short bursts.
A Solitary Hunter
The cheetah employs a stalk-and-rapid-chase technique.
Subspecies | Information about Cheetahs
- African Cheetah (A. j. jubatus)
- Asiatic Cheetah (A. j. venaticus)
King cheetah is also subspecies of cheetah which was incorrectly described as a separate species previously.
The average lifespan of cheetahs is 12 years in the wild; while in captivity they live up to 17 years.