Interesting Facts on Cheetahs
4th Of December is celebrated globally as the International Cheetah Day. The motive behind the same is to spread awareness among the masses about the plight that these fascinating creatures face today. Africa’s most endangered big cat, the fastest land mammal on Earth, critical to it’s ecosystem and threatened across its rangeland – Cheetahs need your help! Here is a quick read about some interesting facts about the Cheetahs.
- With acceleration that would leave most automobiles in the dust, a cheetah can go from 0 to 60 miles an hour in only three seconds, making it world’s fastest land mammal.
- With tyre-tread paw pads and running-spike-style claws that, unlike those of other cats, don’t fully retract, cheetahs are made for speed.
- Cheetahs have “tear marks” that run from the inside corners of their eyes down to the outside edges of their mouth. These marks help reflect the glare of the sun when they are hunting during the day. These marks also work like the sights on a rifle, to help the cheetah “aim” and stay focused on their prey when they are hunting.
- The cheetah has a long, muscular tail that has a flat shape. The tail almost functions like a rudder on a boat because they use it to help control their steering and keep their balance when running very fast.
- Apart from being the fastest terrestrial creatures on the planet, Cheetahs are blessed with amazing eyesight and can spot prey from quite far away.
- Cheetahs are carnivores, so rely on meat for survival. Their diet is made up primarily of smaller antelopes including Springbok, Steenbok, Thomson’s Gazelle, Impalas, and Duiker. Cheetahs will also feed on Wildebeest calves and, occasionally, smaller animals including rabbits, hares and birds.
- They usually chase down their prey and then bite its throat, killing it by cutting off its air supply (suffocation). If successful, the cheetah will often drag its kill to a shady hiding place to protect it from opportunistic animals that sometimes steal a kill before the cheetah can eat.
- With their light body weight and blunt claws, cheetahs are not well designed to protect themselves or their prey. When a larger or more aggressive animal approaches a cheetah in the wild, it will give up its catch to avoid a fight.
- Cheetahs have evolved to live in an environment where water is scarce, and can survive on one drink every three to four days.
- This big cat is a daylight hunter that benefits from stealthy movement and a distinctive spotted coat that allows it to blend easily into high, dry grasses. The cheetah’s fur is covered in solid black spots, and so is their skin! The black fur actually grows out of the black spots on their skin.
- The Cheetah is a social animal and is usually found in groups, consisting of either a mother and her young, siblings (who stay together for around six months after leaving the mother) or a coalition of males who live and hunt together. Adult females, however, tend to be solitary and only meet with males to mate.
- Cheetahs are the only big cat that cannot roar. They can purr though and usually purr most loudly when they are grooming or interacting with other Cheetahs.
- A mother cheetah usually cares for anywhere from 2 to 8 cubs per litter, but cubs are often the target of other predators and many do not survive past the first year. Cheetah cubs have long tall hair that runs from their neck all the way down to the base of their tail, which is called the mantle. The mantle makes a cheetah cub look like a honey badger and makes them blend into tall grass, which helps keep them safe from threats like lions and hyenas.
- Today there are less than 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild, making the cheetah Africa’s most endangered big cat. A hundred years ago that figure was more like 100,000, spread across much of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and into India.
- The species has now disappeared from 91 per cent of the area it once inhabited. Today they are confined mostly to dry open grasslands of Sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority inhabiting natural reserves or parks.
- Historically, cheetahs have been hunted for their fur, but today some of the biggest threats to their survival are loss of habitat, and competition for resources. Cheetahs require large areas of land for survival, so increased human settlements and road construction in their habitat puts them at risk.