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Cheetah Facts for Kids

Cheetahs are members of the Felidae family, which means they are relates to cats. They are the fastest land animal on each, able to run at speeds up to 75 miles per hours. Even more notably, cheetahs can accelerate from 0 to 65 miles per hour in three second, which is almost twice as fast as the acceleration of a Ferrari automobile.

What is the scientific Classification of a Cheetah?

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Acinonyx
Species: A. jubatus

Quick fun facts about Cheetahs

Latin name:
Acinonyx jubatus

Location of Cheetahs
Cheetahs are native to Africa and southwest Asia. Their primary habitats are enormous expanses of open land where they can run and prey on large animals that roam the regions in packs. The animals take refuge in thick brush, and emerge onto the open landscape when feeding or looking for water. In certain African countries, cheetahs live in mountainous terrain and densely vegetated lands.

Cheetahs breeding
Cheetahs usually begin breeding when they reach three years of age. The males occasionally begin around one year sooner than the females. Mating does not take place during a certain time or year, but rather happens again and again year–round. After the male and female cheetah mate and the female cheetah is impregnated, the gestation period lasts around 100 days. Mother cheetahs typically give birth to a litter of three, four or five cheetah cubs.

Cheetahs color
Cheetahs have dark tan or light brown fur covering their bodies. They typically have white patches of fur on the underside of their necks, extending to the upper portion of their chests, and on their bellies. All over the body, the fur is marked with the characteristically unique black spots, which vary slightly in size. Larger spots are often present on the limbs of the animal, while smaller spots cover the rest of the body. The animal has an unspotted face, with a black nose and distinct black stripes (called “tear marks”) that outline the snout of the animal, aligning with the innermost part of the eye and tracing a path to the outermost part of the mouth.

Life expectancy of Cheetahs
Cheetahs typically live around 10 to 12 years in the wild. Their greatest threat is humans in the wild that are encroaching on their land.

Predators of the Cheetah
Cheetah predators primarily include lions and hyenas. These animals are a fair match for cheetahs. All three animals also complete for smaller prey, however in the wild, when food is scarce, they often hunt each other, despite the uncertain outcome.

Baby Cheetahs are called
A baby cheetah is called a cub.

Female Cheetahs are called
A female cheetah is simply called a female cheetah.

Male Cheetahs are called
A male cheetah is simply called a male cheetah.

A group of Cheetahs is called
Cheetahs are not sociable animals. They roam the wild alone. The most common instance that cheetahs are seen together is during mating season or when a mother cheetah gives birth to a litter of cubs.
However, when cheetahs do roam together on rare occasions in groups, they are called a coalition.

What does a Cheetah look like?
Cheetahs are a member of the cat family, as such, they have certain characteristics of cats. For example, the animals walk on four legs and have a long tail. Their bodies are covered in fur. They are unique in their colorings and markings. Their bodies are tan with patterns of black spots covering all parts except their faces.
They have smaller heads that some other cat species such as lions, leopards and domestic house cats. The size might be because of the aerodynamic build of the species. They have small rounded ears on top of their heads, and fairly short snouts.

How tall is a Cheetah? 
A typical adult cheetah is around 32 inches tall at its shoulder. They are around 50 inches long from their heads to their rear legs, and an additional 28 inches long including their tails.
Male cheetahs are typically slightly larger than female cheetahs.

How much does a Cheetah weigh? 
An adult cheetah typically weighs between 80 and 140 pounds. Baby cheetahs typically weigh between five and nine ounces when they are born.

Where are Cheetahs found?
Cheetahs are primarily found in Africa in savannahs, prairies, dense vegetation and mountain ranges. Their densest populations exist in Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and Botswana. They sleep near brush and use it as protection against the elements.

What do Cheetahs eat?
Cheetahs are a diurnal mammal, meaning that they hunt during the day, unlike many other cat species. The animal typically eats many small animals including antelope, warthogs, kudu, hartebeest, sable, birds and rabbits.

Conservation status of Cheetahs

Cheetahs are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Conservation Status List. From Least Concern to Extinct, the list is organized as such:
Least Concern
Near Threatened
Critically Endangered
Extinct in the Wild

The cheetah rests comfortably above the Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild and Extinct statuses, however its populations face threats. There are around 13,000 cheetahs alive in the wild currently in Africa. Many zoos have been using in vitro fertilization to breed the animals for release into the wild, in an attempt to boost population numbers.

The largest threats to the species include lions and hyenas, the cheetah’s natural predators. Other dangers include birth defects and genetic diseases. Because the population numbers are so low, inbreeding is believed to be a major factor in the defects seen in recent births.

Facts about Cheetahs for Kids

  • The cheetah is a large-sized feline inhabiting most of Africa and parts of the Middle East.
  • It is the only extant member of the genus Acinonyx.
  • The cheetah can run faster than any other land animal— as fast as 112 to 120 km/h (70 to 75 mph) in short bursts covering distances up to 500 m (1,600 ft), and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to over 100 km/h (62 mph) in three seconds.
  • This cat is also notable for modifications in the species’ paws.
  • Although many sources list six or more subspecies of cheetah, the taxonomic status of most of these subspecies is unresolved.
  • Acinonyx rex—the king cheetah (see below)—was abandoned as a subspecies after it was discovered that the variation was caused by a single recessive gene.
  • The coarse, short fur of the cheetah is tan with round black spots measuring from 2 to 3 cm (0.79 to 1.2 in) across, affording it some camouflage while hunting.
  • Black “tear marks” running from the corner of its eyes down the sides of the nose to its mouth keep sunlight out of its eyes and aid in hunting and seeing long distances.
  • Males tend to be slightly larger than females and have slightly bigger heads, but there is not a great variation in cheetah sizes and it is difficult to tell males and females apart by appearance alone.
  • Known as “king cheetahs,” they were once thought to constitute a separate subspecies but are in fact African cheetahs; their unusual fur pattern is the result of a single recessive gene.
  • The cheetah’s paws have semi-retractable claws (known only in three other cat species: the fishing cat, the flat-headed cat and the Iriomote cat), offering extra grip in its high-speed pursuits.
  • The ligament structure of the cheetah’s claws is the same as those of other cats; it simply lacks the sheath of skin and fur present in other varieties, and therefore the claws are always visible, with the exception of the dewclaw.
  • While running, in addition to having good traction due to its semi-retractable claws, the cheetah uses its tail as a rudder-like means of steering to allow it to make sharp turns, necessary to outflank prey animals that often make such turns to escape.
  • These felids have not changed appreciably since they first appeared in the fossil record.
  • In 1927, the naturalist Reginald Innes Pocock declared it a separate species, but reversed this decision in 1939 due to lack of evidence, but in 1928, a skin purchased by Walter Rothschild was found to be intermediate in pattern between the king cheetah and spotted cheetah and Abel Chapman considered it to be a color form of the spotted cheetah.
  • In the memoirs of Tuzk-e-Jahangiri, the Emperor, says that in the third year of his reign, “Raja Bir Singh Deo brought a white cheetah to show me.
  • A study of cheetahs in the Serengeti showed females are sexually promiscuous and often have cubs by many different males.
  • The first eighteen months of a cub’s life are important; cubs must learn many lessons, because survival depends on knowing how to hunt wild prey species and avoid other predators.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Several sources refer to a wide variety of cheetah vocalizations, but most of these lack a detailed acoustic description which makes it difficult to reliably assess exactly what terms refer to exactly what vocalizations.
  • Note, however, that they lost most of their genetic diversity thousands of years ago (see the beginning of this article), and yet seem to have only been in decline in the last century or so, suggesting factors other than genetics are mainly responsible.
  • Cheetahs are included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of vulnerable species (African subspecies threatened, Asiatic subspecies in critical situation) as well as on the US Endangered Species Act: threatened species – Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).