- Synonym: Acinonyx jubatus
- Family: Felidae (cats)
- Diet: Carnivore (hunting mostly mammalian herbivores)
- Habitat: Africa’s prairies, grasslands, savannahs
- Relatives: Puma, jaguarundi
- Speed: Up to 75 mph
- Name: From Hindi and Sanskrit, meaning “variegated”
- Subspecies: 5
- Population: 10,000 in the wilderness
- Litter: 2-8 cubs
- Lifespan: 10-12 years in the wild
- Speed: Cheetahs are the fastest land animals
- Extinction: Cheetah population has decreased by 90% in the last Century
- Prey: Cheetahs are deadly predators
- Origin: The Cheetah species is more than 10 million years old
- Habitat: Wild Cheetahs are not found only in Africa nowadays
- Size: Cheetahs can reach 150 pounds of weight and 60 inches of length
- Predators: Cheetahs are themselves often victims of predators
- History: Cheetahs were once kept as pets
- Eating: Cheetahs are surprisingly picky eaters
- Hunting: Cheetahs use their special claws and tails to hunt
- The first captivity-bred Cheetahs were born in 1956
- Cheetahs have enlarged parts of the respiratory system
- Namibia is home to 3,000 Cheetahs
- King Cheetah is not a separate species of Cheetah
- Only male Cheetahs body temperature can be as high as 105°F
- Cheetahs are not that good at chasing their prey
- Cheetahs have relatively low stamina
- Cheetahs hunt during the day
- Cheetahs can see 3 miles away
Cheetahs Are the Fastest Land Animals
Cheetah facts show that a grown cheetah can reach speeds of up to 75 mph – more than any other known land animal. Their acceleration abilities are also impressive: they can go from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 3 seconds, which makes them even quicker than most sports cars on the market.
Cheetah Population Has Decreased by 90% in the Last Century
In the beginning of the 1900s, there were around 100,000 cheetahs across Africa and Asia. Now, only about 10,000 remain, the vast majority of them in Africa. The species thus faces possible extinction in the future and is considered to be Africa’s most endangered big cat. Cheetahs are also included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of vulnerable species.
Cheetahs Are Deadly Predators
Their agility, in combination with their sharp claws and teeth, makes them deadly predators, hunting gazelles, hares, impalas and other mammalian herbivores of appropriate size. They also utilise their high camouflage potential (variegated fur with black spots) and the high grasses of their habitats to sneak up on their prey. They often hunt in groups, preying on bigger mammals, such as zebras or wildebeests.
The Cheetah Species Is More than 10 Million Years Old
Cheetahs are believed to have evolved in the Miocene epoch (23 to 5 million years ago), but the ancient cheetah species, such as Acinonyx pardinensis and Acinonyx intermedius, are now extinct. Modern cheetahs are much smaller than their ancestors, but presumably also much quicker.
Wild Cheetahs Are Not Found Only in Africa Nowadays
Although the vast majority of cheetahs live in 23 countries in Africa, cheetah facts reveal that a small population of about 50 to 200 also lives in the Khorasan Province of Iran. There are also some signs of a small population living in Pakistan, but this hasn’t yet been confirmed by experts.
Cheetahs Can Reach 150 Pounds of Weight and 60 Inches of Length
The latter does of course not include their tail; if the tail is included, the cheetah can reach a length of about 90 inches. Cheetahs usually stand at 25 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder, which gives them the necessary build for reaching great speeds. But all these numbers are top limits – most adult cheetahs found in the wilderness are smaller, with the smallest members of the species weighting no more than 50 pounds and reaching a length (head to tail) of 70 inches.
Cheetahs Are Themselves Often Victims of Predators
And this is also one of the reasons why the cheetah population is gradually decreasing. Many cubs are killed by other predators before they even have the chance of becoming a predator themselves, and even adult cheetahs are hunted by bigger predators, such as lions, leopards and hyenas.
Cheetahs Were Once Kept as Pets
The Ancient Egyptians tamed cheetahs and trained them for hunting from around 1700 BC, although they did not domesticate them. They were seen as symbols of royalty, so many rulers took pride in having dozens, or even hundreds, of them on their estates. Cheetahs are nowadays found only in the wilderness, special reserves or zoos around the world.
Cheetahs Are Surprisingly Picky Eaters
Although they eat a wide variety of other animal species, they never eat their prey whole. They leave out the skin and bones, so if those are missing from a carcass killed by cheetahs, it means some other predator has gotten to it.
Cheetahs Use Their Special Claws and Tail to Hunt
Cheetahs have semi-retractable claws, a characteristic only found in three other cat species, and which gives them extra grip for their high-speed pursuits. And how do they navigate successfully at high speeds? They use their long tails to make sharp turns, in a similar way to how boats use a rudder.
The First Captivity-Bred Cheetahs Were Born in 1956
Cheetahs are notoriously bad at adapting to new environments, thus they have many difficulties breeding in captivity. The first captivity-bred cheetahs were born in 1956, and since then a number of zoos and reserves have succeeded in breeding reasonable numbers of cubs.
Cheetahs Have Enlarged Parts of the Respiratory System
Cheetah facts reveal that some parts of cheetahs’ respiratory system are bigger than normal for an animal of their size. But the enlarged nostrils, sinuses and lungs in cheetahs are there for a purpose – to increase the airflow needed for high oxygen and energy consumption that supports their explosive movement.
Namibia Is Home to 3,000 Cheetahs
Out of the 23 African countries where cheetahs still live in the wilderness, Namibia hosts the largest population of them. Some 3,000 cheetahs living there represent almost a third of the entire species, making Namibia the “cheetah capital of the modern world”.
King Cheetah Is Not a Separate Species of Cheetah
King cheetahs are famous for the distinctive fur pattern on their backs and were long believed to be a separate species. But it was later discovered that a single gene mutation is responsible for the condition, and the idea of the king cheetah as a separate species was abandoned, leaving only 5 widely-recognised cheetah species: Acinonyx jubatus jubatus (also known as the Namibian cheetah), Acinonyx jubatus raineyii (Tanzanian cheetah), Acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii (Sudan cheetah), Acinonyx jubatus hecki (Saharan cheetah) and Acinonyx jubatus venaticus (Asiatic cheetah).
Only Male Cheetahs Establish Territories
Females don’t establish territories, and this is also the reason why all females always hunt alone (with the exception of their cubs). Males live solitary lives in only 40% of cases, while 40% of them live in pairs and 20% in trios.
A Cheetah’s Body Temperature can be as High as 105°F
Cheetah facts show that their usual body temperature is around 100°F, but increases to 105°F during a hunt. There is a myth that they are forced to give up chasing a prey when they reach that temperature and start overheating, but the myth has not been scientifically confirmed yet.
Cheetahs Are Not That Good at Chasing Their Prey
Although equipped with a body made for speed and efficient killing, cheetah facts reveal that cheetahs are actually notoriously bad at catching their prey. According to the statistics, they catch their intended prey in only 40-50% of cases. In other cases, they prey gets away, or is won by predators of other species. Mother cheetahs are even less successful, since their cubs act as a distraction during the hunt.
Cheetahs Have Relatively Low Stamina
They are the fastest land animals, sure, but when it comes to running for a longer period of time, cheetahs quickly give up. They can utilise their immense speed only over short distances (approximately one-third of a mile), then they are forced to stop and rest. Because of their poor stamina, they are in great danger of becoming prey themselves after a hunt…
Cheetahs Hunt during the Day
Although most cat species are nocturnal, cheetahs prefer to hunt during the day, most often in the early morning or early evening. Why? Because they increase their chances of catching their prey this way …
Cheetahs Can See 3 Miles Away
Their sense of smell is also great, but in contrast to most predators, they mostly use their sight when hunting. And why wouldn’t they? They can see 3 miles into the distance! Even the sun in their eyes doesn’t hinder their sight much, since the tear mark under their eyes keeps the sunlight away.
Cheetah Facts— Facts about Cheetahs Summary
Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) are predatory cats, found in Africa. Best-known for their amazing speed, which grants them the title of the fastest land animal, cheetahs stalk grasslands, savannahs and prairies, hunting for herbivore mammals that are smaller than themselves, although they are known to prey on bigger animals too when hunting in groups. They were once tamed and trained for hunting, but nowadays we can only see them in the African wilderness, in special animal reserves and in zoos around the world. With only 10,000 of them left, they are considered an endangered species and are protected by various nature-preserving organisations.