Do you know what do cheetahs eat? This article will guide you toward a better understanding of cheetahs diet. Cheetah, the only wild cat that is aerodynamically built for the speed, is capable to accelerate from 0 – 100 km/h within just three seconds. Though in short bursts, cheetahs are adept to run at a speed of 120 – 125 km/h. However, they need to catch their prey within few seconds since they don’t have enough stamina to run in prolong period.
What Do Cheetahs Eat?
Being carnivorous by nature, cheetahs predominantly eat mammals below the weight of 40 kg (88 lb). The primary diet of cheetahs comprises Thomson’s gazelle, springkok, ostriches, impala, young wildebeests, young zebras, spotted deer, Guineafowl, rabbits, and hares.
While hunting in groups, these species tend to aim at the young animals and the success rate is greater as compared to the solitary hunting. Cheetahs are believed to be the diurnal hunters as against big cats which usually hunt at night. These mammals hunt by vision and not by scent.
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They generally stalk their prey within 10 – 30 metres (33 – 98 feet) and then the acceleration begins. While running it exerts an immense amount of strain on its body and the body temperature tends to rise to the zenith.
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The cheetahs diet largely dependent upon the geographical location such as in East African plains, Thomson’s gazelle is one of the most frequent preys. Due to the small size (and slow running) of Thomson gazelle, cheetahs typically succeeds. These wild cats aim for those animals that are dissuaded form their groups. Cheetahs are not strong enough to break the neck of the medium sized prey it hunts.
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What Do Cheetahs Eat For Food
Being diurnal, cheetah primarily utilizes daylight hours to hunt but the hours fairly differ from region to region. In Sahara, for instance, cheetahs mostly hunt at night mainly due to the fact that the temperature can reach 43 degree centigrade in the daytime while it drops down in night. Cheetahs living in Serengeti are known to hunt later in the morn or in the earlier part of the noon possibly to avoid other carnivores including lions and hyenas. Generally, these cats take rest during the midday period while in between 0730 to 1000 and 1630 to 1930 hours they are active.
In Namibia and Serengeti, cheetahs are often found to hunt at night but their precise movement is not actually known due to lack of data. The young and males often move around during night while the family groups are seen almost at the same place (in the morning) where they were in the last night.
Cheetahs typically avoid their competitors such as lions, leopards, and hyenas as these intruders can easily snatch prey from cheetah’s mouth and sometimes may even kill adult cheetahs. Not only do cheetahs need to alert while feeding but their predators can make them pay for life even when cheetahs are resting; therefore, these cats need to alert all the time. They can, however, scan or recognize their prey from a real distance especially when they are sitting on top of a mound. In Mara, cheetahs are known to spend almost 12 hours each day while checking out for nearby threat.
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How Do Cheetahs Hunt | What Do Cheetahs Eat
Cheetah usually employs two primary ways of hunting their prey. They can wait for the right opportunity from their resting site such as allowing their prey to come close enough before finally rushing towards it or; it also walks in the midst of grasslands from the low branches while scanning the area at the same.
Cheetah is likely to hunt gazelles openly and if it can get within 60 – 70 meters before the gazelle notices, it can make a final dash. Nonetheless, cheetahs must try to hide her as more as possible to get her closer to the prey. They are found to sprint towards gazelles within 30 meters of distance. Besides, cheetahs hunt will only be successful if it focuses on one animal before chasing its prey. Wild dogs can afford to change their targets during the chase.
While hunting small animals like Thomson’s gazelle, young wildebeests, and impalas, cheetahs employ a fast approach. The prey that remains stationery on the ground is unlikely to be attacked by cheetahs. Cheetahs hunt gazelles on the basis of their vigilance and close proximity; active gazelles are least preferred by cheetahs since they respond quickly before the final rush.
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Cheetah’s Diet in Different Regions | What Do Cheetahs Eat
Cheetahs are not the long-runners and they usually give up chase in a small trip. They are known to abandon about three-quarters of the chase. There would be gazelles or gazelle-like antelopes weighing around 20 – 50 kg in places where cheetahs are found. These cats primarily prey on medium-sized ungulates weighing around 40 kilograms. Cheetahs also prey on springbok, waterbuck, impala, Thomson’s gazelles, steenbok, kudu, duiker, wildebeest, reedbuck, warthog, and waterbuck.
These cats predominantly catch springbok in the Kalahari in South Africa; while in Serengeti, the Thomson’s gazelle is the primary prey that accounts to 91% of cheetahs diet. However, when the migratory gazelles become scarce, cheetahs begin to prey on hares. In the Kruger National Park, cheetahs prey on impalas which accounts to 68% of their diet. They also fancy eating reedbuck.
Cheetahs living in South West Namibia (Africa) and Botswana are known to prey on springbok. In Nairobi National Park, almost 75% of cheetahs diet is composed of Grant’s gazelles, Thomson’s gazelles, and impalas. According to a study, young gazelles make up 50% of the diet.
Cheetahs inhabiting Serengeti, cheetahs prefer to prey in groups and with the collaboration take down 80-kilogram wildebeests; however, lone males typically hunt Thomson’s gazelles. Cheetahs kill large ungulates by strangulation.
After taking down its prey, the cheetah maintains the stronghold for about five minutes or so. The prey dies due to suffocation as the cat firmly grips the trachea. However, they kill small animals simply by biting at the back of their neck. Cheetah then drags the kill to a nearby shade (if available) and takes rest along with the carcass for about 5 – 55 minutes. However, if there are other cheetahs present, they begin their feast right after the hunt.
They are often seen cutting the meat slice while moving their heads sideways in order to allow their scissor-like carnassial teeth to chew properly. Cheetahs feed in a disciplined manner and quite peacefully, with occasional growling and snapping. They consume the whole skeleton including rib bones.
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They often take pause while feeding in order to look around for their competitors. This is especially true in case of mothers feeding with their cubs; they look around their surroundings more than feeding; but the adult males or grown-up cubs do not practice this vigilance.
Cheetahs are known to consume large amounts of food in a single day such as cats living in the Etosha National Park (Namibia), eat up to 10 kg of food in just two hours. They also stay with their prey for about 11 hours. Other predators like hyenas and lions are not present in large number in Etosha.
Although cheetahs were never scavengers; but in the recent years, they have fed on carcass which they didn’t hunt themselves. However, this happens only occasionally. These cats often lose their kill to other predators such as those living in Serengeti lose almost 13% of their kill to lions and hyenas. In the Kruger National Park, around 14% of the cheetahs kill is unwillingly devoted to hyenas. Nonetheless, cheetahs are considered to be most successful hunters in all felids.