We all know the well-known fact that the cheetah is the fastest animal on land. However, there are more interesting facts about this spotted animal that can whip up your child’s interest.
The scientific name for cheetah is Acinonyx jubatus, while the word cheetah is derived from the Sanskrit word chitraka, meaning “the spotted one.” Most of these magnificent creatures live in Africa. Read on as we tell you some fascinating cheetah facts for kids.
20+ Cheetah Facts For Kids
1. Cheetahs belong to the cat family
Did you know that cheetahs are comparatively smaller than other wild cats? They weigh only about 45–60kg. Lions, Leopards, and Jaguars are all larger and heavier than cheetahs. Cheetahs are often confused with leopards, but they have long black stripes on their face, and their spots are much rounder. And, unlike the other cats, cheetahs can’t climb trees.
2. Male cheetahs usually live in groups
Cheetahs are generally social by nature and tend to live in groups. The female cheetahs stick with their cubs for up to a year or two, while the male cheetahs typically form a group known as a “coalition” and hunt together. The female cheetahs are solitary animals except when they are raising their cubs.
3. Cheetahs give birth to a litter of cubs
A female cheetah gives birth to anywhere from two to five cubs at a time. The cubs stay with the mother until they are about 16 to 24 months old.
4. There are different types of cheetahs
While there are four subspecies of the cheetah based on the geography in which they are found, there as many as 36 species of cheetahs.
5. Cheetahs rarely drink water
Although they don’t have a hump, cheetahs are similar to camels. They don’t drink a lot of water! Cheetahs derive their fluid requirement from the food itself and usually drink water only once in three to four days!
6. Cheetahs are adaptable to different habitats
Cheetahs are not as selective about their habitats as other cats and can be found in any area with prey, good visibility, and fewer larger animals. They have been known to inhabit areas at elevations as high as 4,000m (13,000ft), too.
7. Cheetahs have unique spots
A fully grown cheetah’s body can have anywhere between 2,000 to 3,000 spots! The pattern of spots on each cheetah’s body is unique, much like our fingerprints, and these spots help them camouflage during a hunt.
8. Cheetahs are competent hunters
Cheetahs have lightning speed and excellent vision, making them natural and competent hunters. In the Middle East, cheetahs would even accompany the royal hunt expeditions in the 7th century AD.
9. Cheetahs can run at great speed
The fastest creature on land can reach a speed of up to 70 miles per hour in just three seconds! The cheetah’s elongated spine and vertical shoulder blades allow it to stretch by as much as 30 feet. Besides its speed, a cheetah can also change direction mid-air during a chase! However, it does not have a lot of stamina and can only maintain top speed for a minute or two.
10. Cheetahs have tear marks
Cheetahs have long black lines from their eyes to their mouth, called tear lines. It is believed that these protect them from the sun’s glare and give them a clearer long-distance vision. This enables them to spot their prey from a distance of up to five kilometers.
11. Cheetahs hunt during the day
Cheetahs are excellent hunters, thanks to their athleticism and eyesight. However, they usually hunt only during the day, unlike other larger animals, as they have poor night vision.
12. Cheetahs choose smaller prey
Given their relatively smaller size, cheetahs prefer to hunt smaller prey. However, when hunting in groups, they are capable of hunting larger prey, too. Unlike other cats, they stalk their prey for only a short while and chase them for about 30 seconds.
13. Cheetahs eat quickly
Cheetahs usually eat soon after the hunt. Just like their speed during the hunt, cheetahs eat fast as well. This is mostly due to threats from other carnivores, such as hyenas or lions that share the same habitat.
14. A cheetah’s tail gives it direction
A cheetah’s tail can be as long as 80 centimeters and tends to be rather flat. The long tail aids the cheetah in steering and changing direction while running. It acts as a rudder on a boat, especially at high speed!
15. Cheetahs are not aggressive
Although they are predators, cheetahs are not naturally aggressive. In fact, they try to avoid larger prey, and if threatened by larger prey, they tend to give up.
16. Cheetahs were once kept as pets
Cheetahs have served as hunting pets of humans from about 3,000 BC. Today, however, it is illegal to have this animal as a pet in several countries.
17. Cheetahs don’t roar
It may be hard to believe, but cheetahs do not roar. They usually purr while they are grooming or are around other cheetahs. They also communicate with each other by making small chirping sounds. Who knew cheetahs would have something in common with birds!
18. Cheetahs are a threatened species
Cheetahs were heavily distributed all over the world about 20,000 years ago. However, it is estimated that there are less than 7,100 adult and adolescent cheetahs in the wild today. The current conservation status of cheetahs is “Vulnerable” on the International for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. They are threatened by several factors such as habitat loss, conflict with humans, and poaching.
19. Cheetahs live long
Cheetahs usually live much longer than other wild cats, such as lions. While a lion has an average lifespan of about 10–14 years, cheetahs have been known to survive for more than 17 years!
20. The King Cheetah has been spotted for less than ten times
The Cooper’s Cheetah, also known as the King Cheetah, was first spotted in 1926 and has since been found in the wild only about five times. It is an African Cheetah with a rare fur pattern. The spots are blotchy, and three full-length black stripes run from the neck to the tail.
21. The cheetah is one of the oldest species in existence
Cheetahs are also one of the oldest animals in existence. Cheetah fossils in Africa date back to as many as three million years ago.
The best thing about cheetahs is that they are very friendly towards humans. They only see fast-moving animals as prey or threats. As a result, they get along great with us. And yes! cheetahs can accelerate faster than a Ferrari. We hope these interesting facts increase your child’s love for this vulnerable animal.