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The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal and Africa’s most endangered big cat. Adapted for speed, it is capable of reaching speeds of more than 68 miles per hour in just over three seconds and, at top speed, its stride is seven meters long. With its unique build, the cheetah is quite different from all other big cats and is the only member of its genus, Acinonyx.
See the fact file below for more information on the cheetah, or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Cheetah worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrate)
Class: Mammalia (Warm-blooded)
Order: Carnivora (Carnivorous with sharp teeth adapted to tear flesh)
Family: Felidae (belonging to cats)
Genus & species: Acinonyx jubatus
- The cheetah is a large cat native to central Iran and Africa.
- It is the fastest land animal on earth, and is capable of running at 80 to 128 km/h (50 to 80 mph).
- The name cheetah comes from a Hindi word, chita, meaning ‘spotted one’.
- The lifespan of female wild cheetahs is 14 to 15 years, while males generally live ten years.
- There are four subspecies of cheetah.
- The South-eastern African cheetah is found in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia.
- The Asiatic cheetah, found in central Iran, is the only surviving cheetah in Asia.
- The North-eastern African cheetah is found in the Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.
- The North-western African cheetah is found in Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.
- It is estimated that there are less than 8,000 cheetahs roaming wild. Many zoos have cheetahs.
- Cheetahs have a light build, long thin legs with strong thigh muscles, and long tails.
- Their coat is creamy white or pale buff and is covered with evenly spaced, solid black spots.
- Cheetahs are 1.1 to 1.4 meters (3.5 to 4.5 feet) long, excluding the tail.
- Their tails are long and add an additional 65 to 80 centimeters ( 25.5 to 31.5 inches).
- They reach a height of 67–94 cm (26–37 in) at the top of the shoulder.
- These big cats weigh anything from 35 to 65 kilograms (77 to 143 lbs).
- Their head is smaller and more rounded than other members of the “big cat” family.
- Cheetahs have long, flexible spines and can turn swiftly when chasing prey.
- Their eyes sit high on the head and have round pupils.
- Distinct black tear stripes run from the eyes to the mouth. These stripes are thought to protect the eyes from the sun’s glare.
- Adult cheetahs are distinguished from other big cats by their solid black spots. The color and spots are a form of camouflage, which helps cheetahs hide from predators while hunting prey.
- The first two-thirds of a cheetah’s tail is covered in spots; the rest is marked with dark stripes or rings.
- Cheetahs are the only big cats with non-retractable claws.
- In prehistoric times, the cheetah was found throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe.
- Cheetahs are now mostly found in areas of sub-Saharan Africa and in eastern and southern African parks.
- Some can also still be found in southern Algeria and Iran.
- They like dry, open grasslands where they can pick up speed when chasing prey.
- Male cheetahs are social and form small groups.
- Female cheetahs are loners and only spend time with their young.
- The only time females and males meet is during mating season.
- Cheetahs are carnivores, meaning their primary food is meat.
- These predators choose smaller prey such as gazelles, hares, young wildebeest, warthogs, and birds.
- Cheetahs hunt throughout the day but prefer the cooler times of daybreak and dusk.
- Cheetahs rely on vision to spot prey. They will hide in shady areas or watch the surroundings from low branches of trees.
- Once a cheetah has spotted its prey, it will stalk it to get as close as possible.
- They then chase the prey, galloping at speeds of up to 120 km/h (about 75 mph) to catch up with it.
- One stride of a galloping cheetah can measure up to 7 meters (23 ft);
- The prey is then tackled to trip it and knock it off balance.
- Once on the ground, the prey is suffocated and devoured.
- Cheetahs can consume as much as 10 kg (22 lb) at one sitting.
- Hyenas and lions will encroach on cheetahs’ kills in the hope of getting a meal they have not had to hunt themselves.
- Cheetahs have evolved to live in dry habitats.
- They only need to drink water every three or four days.
Reproduction and Young
- Males can breed before they are two years of age but mating usually only occurs when they have acquired a territory.
- Females mature at two to three years of age and will then mate.
- Cheetahs can breed throughout the year.
- The gestation period is around three months.
- Litters can be up to 8 cubs, the average being a litter of three young.
- Baby cheetahs, called cubs, are very small when they are born, weighing 150 to 300 grams (5 to 10 ounces).
- Their eyes are shut at birth and only open after about a week.
- At about two weeks of age, the cubs start to walk.
- Young cubs are very vulnerable, and mum keeps them hidden in dense vegetation while they are young/small.
- Until about three months of age, cheetah cubs have a thick silvery-gray mantle down their back.
- Cubs start following their mother out of the lair at about two months old and are encouraged to start eating meat.
- By six months of age, they are fully weaned.
- Cubs will stay with their mother for one-and-a-half to two years while she teaches them hunting and survival skills.
- Captive cheetahs do not reproduce very successfully.
- It is estimated that over 50% of cheetah cubs die before they are three months old.
Did You Know
- Cheetahs communicate in several different ways:
- They chirp. This is a short bird-like call used between mothers and cubs to find each other, when mothers call to their cubs, and to greet each other.
- They purr. Cheetahs use this noise when they are content, a bit like a cat does.
- They also growl, hiss, cough, and meow.
- They also like to groom each other.
- Cheetahs are trophy hunted on game farms.
- They are also hunted and killed for killing livestock on farms.
- Cheetahs are poached for their beautiful skin.
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about the Cheetah across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Cheetah worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about The cheetah which is the world’s fastest land animal and Africa’s most endangered big cat.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Facts
- Master of German Literature
- Famous German Artists
- Goethe’s Works
- Legend of Faust
- Representative Men
- Goethe or Not
- Undying Influence
- Goethe Poetry
- Goethe Knowledge
Frequently Asked Questions
Are cheetahs endangered?
It is estimated that there are now less than 8,000 cheetahs roaming wild. Many zoos have cheetahs, but they do not breed well in captivity.
Which animal eats cheetahs?
Leopards, lions, and hyenas prey on cheetah cubs. Adult cheetahs are usually too fast to be caught.
How high can a cheetah jump?
Cheetahs can jump about 6 meters (20 feet), about ten times the length of their body.
Are cheetahs friendly?
Cheetahs are docile compared to other wild cats, and they can be tamed and trained.
Who is the king of the jungle, cheetah, or lion?
Lions are more powerful than cheetahs, but cheetahs can run much faster than lions.
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Link will appear as Cheetah Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 19, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.