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Monday, September 29, 2008

Cheetah - The Fastest Land Mammal

Cheetah - The Fastest Land Mammal

The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is an atypical Cheetah - The Fastest Land Mammalmember of the cat family (Felidae) that is unique in its speed, while lacking climbing abilities. As such, it is placed in its own genus, Acinonyx.

The Cheetah is the fastest land mammal in the world and can reach speeds of 80-100 km/h. However, it is only able to keep up this speed for a short period of time. The cheetah has a slender body, a small head, and long legs, which makes it ideal for speed, it is also the only cat without retractable claws which allows the claws to always be exposed, makes for better traction when running. The tail is also adapted to help maintain balance at high speeds and during quick turns.

The cheetah has a background colour of light golden yellow/tan, covered with small, round, black spots on the cheeks, forehead, crown, neck, and limbs. They have a distinctive black tear-shaped from the corner of the eye to the corner of the mouth and a mane-like black stripe running the length of their back.

Cheetahs do not roar like lions and tigers. Instead, they make birdlike chirping sounds for communication with other members of the family and they hiss when angered or threatened and purr loudly when they are content. If they are alarmed they whine or growl.

A cheetah has a good sense of smell and communicate by scenting tree trunks, bushes and termite mounds with their waste.

Cheetahs are typically solitary creatures although males sometimes live with a small group of brothers from the same litter.



Males are very sociable and will group together for life, usually with their brothers in the same litter; although if a cub is the only male in the litter then two or three lone males may group up, or a lone male may join an existing group.These groups are called coalitions. A coalition is six times more likely to obtain an animal territory than a lone male, although studies have shown that coalitions keep their territories just as long as lone males — between four and four and a half years.

Males are very territorial. Females' home ranges can be very large and trying to build a territory around several females' ranges is impossible to defend. Instead, males choose the points at which several of the females' home ranges overlap, creating a much smaller space, which can be properly defended against intruders while maximizing the chance of reproduction. Coalitions will try their most to maintain territories in order to find females with whom they will mate. The size of the territory also depends on the available resources; depending on the part of Africa, the size of a male's territory can vary greatly from 37 to 160 square kilometers.

Males mark their territory by urinating on objects that stand out, such as trees, logs, or termite mounds. The whole coalition contributes to the scent. Males will attempt to kill any intruders and fights result in serious injury or death.


Unlike males and other felines, females do not establish territories. Instead, the area they live in is termed a home range. These overlap with other females' home ranges, often those of their daughters, mothers, or female littermates. Females always hunt alone, although cubs will accompany their mothers to learn to hunt once they reach the age of five to six weeks.

The size of a home range depends entirely on the availability of prey. Cheetahs in southern African woodlands have ranges as small as 34 square km, while in some parts of Namibia they can reach 1,500 square kilometres (580 sq mi).

Other pictures of Cheetah and Cubs.

Adult CheetahCheetah Kills Gazelle
Cheetah and Cubs
Cheetah Cub

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