"The Cheetah Brothers"
JULIAN’S #2 PICK
“THE CHEETAH BROTHERS”
In captivity, 4 seconds and 42 photos later, this photo was the only one in focus with all
8 paws off the ground!
Cheetahs usually hunt alone. But in this Youtube video, 2 male cheetahs join together to attack prey much larger than themselves.
FACTS ABOUT the CHEETAH by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
The cheetah is the world's fastest land mammal. With acceleration that would leave most automobiles in the dust, a cheetah can go from 0 to 60 miles an hour in only three seconds. These big cats are quite nimble at high speed and can make quick and sudden turns in pursuit of prey.
SIZE RELATIVE TO A 6-FT MAN:
COMMON NAME: Cheetah
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Acinonyx jubatus
AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN THE WILD: 10 to 12 years
SIZE: 3.5 to 4.5 feet; tail: 25.5 to 31.5 inches
WEIGHT: 77 to 143 pounds
SIZE RELATIVE TO A 6-FT MAN:
Speed and Hunting
Before unleashing their speed, cheetahs use exceptionally keen eyesight to scan their grassland environment for signs of prey—especially antelope and hares. This big cat is a daylight hunter that benefits from stealthy movement and a distinctive spotted coat that allows it to blend easily into high, dry grasses.
When the moment is right a cheetah will sprint after its quarry and attempt to knock it down. Such chases cost the hunter a tremendous amount of energy and are usually over in less than a minute. If successful, the cheetah will often drag its kill to a shady hiding place to protect it from opportunistic animals that sometimes steal a kill before the cheetah can eat. Cheetahs need only drink once every three to four days.
Breeding and Population
Female cheetahs typically have a litter of three cubs and live with them for one and a half to two years. Young cubs spend their first year learning from their mother and practicing hunting techniques with playful games. Male cheetahs live alone or in small groups, often with their littermates.
Most wild cheetahs are found in eastern and southwestern Africa. These populations are under pressure as the wide-open grasslands they favor are disappearing at the hands of human settlers.
Description of Cheetahs
The carnivorous Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is described as the fastest mammal on Earth. It has long legs, a tall, slim build and its colors are tawny, black-spotted fur. The cheetah's spots help to camouflage it in its environment. Unlike the other cats it has non-retractile claws. The name Cheetah comes from the Hindu word ''chita'' meaning 'spotted one'.
Species of Cheetahs
The cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, is the sole member of its genus - all other species have become extinct. There are 5 subspecies of cheetah in the genus Acinonyx - 4 in Africa and 1 in Iran.
Basic Facts about Cheetahs
The name of a male is referred to simply as a cheetah
The name of a female is referred to as a she-cheetah
The name or offspring, or baby Cheetahs, is a cub
The average size of a litter is between 2 - 5 cubs
The sound made by Cheetahs is referred to as a growl, hiss or snarl
Facts about the Size of Cheetahs
Fully grown cheetahs reach the height to shoulder of 2.3 - 2.8 feet
Adult cheetahs weigh between 75-150 pounds
Cool and Fun Facts about the life, behavior and personality of Cheetahs
Cheetahs were trained by man for hunting as long as 3000 BC
They have a keen sense of hearing, sight and smell
A fully grown cheetah can reach speeds in excess of 60 mph
No natural enemies
Cheetahs are often mistaken for leopards
The Female cheetah is solitary
Male cheetahs live in small groups
Cheetahs Lifespan - Up to 12 years in the wild
Genus and Species: Acinonyx jubatus
The world's fastest land mammal is vulnerable to extinction throughout its range.
Physical Description: Built more like greyhounds than typical cats, cheetahs are adapted for brief but intense bursts of speed. They have wiry bodies and small heads. Their coats are golden or yellowish, embellished with many small black spots, and their tails are long with a few black bands and sometimes a white tip. Black stripes run from their eyes down to the corners of their mouths.
Size: Cheetahs grow to between three and a half and four and a half feet long, not including their 30-inch tails. They weigh between 75 and 145 pounds and stand two to three feet tall at the shoulder. Males tend to be a bit more robust and weigh about ten pounds more than females.
Geographic Distribution: Cheetahs live in small, isolated populations mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. They are very rare in southern Algeria and northern Niger, and range from Senegal east to Somalia and south to northern South Africa. A few have been reported from Iran. However, many of their strongholds are in eastern and southern African parks.
Status: The cheetah is listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union's (IUCN's) Red List of Threatened Animals.
Habitat: Savannas, both open and more densely vegetated, give cheetahs the open areas they need for quick stalks and chases. They are not found in forest areas or wetlands.
Natural Diet: Cheetahs eat primarily hoofed mammals weighing less than 90 pounds, including gazelles and young wildebeest. They will also eat smaller game such as hares, warthogs, and birds.
National Zoo Diet: The Zoo's cheetahs eat ground horse meat and sometimes beef, rabbits, and chicks.
Reproduction: Cheetahs can breed at any time of year but tend to copulate in the dry season, with cubs being born at the onset of the wet season. Females reach breeding age by 21 or 22 months of age. Males live in small permanent groups called coalitions, which are usually made up of brothers. Males are drawn to females in heat, but only one male in a coalition usually mates with the selected female. On average, three cubs are born about three months after mating takes place. Until five or six weeks old, the cubs remain hidden; if she needs to move, the mother carries them from place to place. After five or six weeks, cubs follow their mothers and share her kills. Cheetah cubs wean at about three months old.
Life Span: In zoos, cheetahs may live up to 17 years; in the wild, they may live eight to ten years.
Behavior: Female cheetahs live alone, except when raising cubs. They rarely associate with other cheetahs, except when ready to mate. Males live in small permanent groups called coalitions, which are usually made up of two to four brothers. To avoid lions and leopards, cheetahs usually hunt in the middle of the day. Cheetahs stalk their prey, approaching to within about 50 feet before dashing out from cover and sprinting at the targeted animals. Cheetahs grab their victims' throats and suffocate their quarry within a few minutes. After securing their meal, they may drag it to nearby cover. Despite their best efforts to hide their catches, their kills are often stolen by larger predators and picked at by hordes of vultures. Lions and hyenas also eat cheetah cubs; lions and leopards also kill adults.
Past/Present/Future: Once widespread across arid Africa, into the Middle East and east to India, the cheetah has suffered dramatic declines over the last century. It now lives in Africa, and a few may survive in Iran. Hunted for their spotted coats and because they sometimes attack livestock, they disappeared from many areas. More recently, widespread habitat destruction has fragmented cheetah habitats, isolating many populations. In many areas, the cheetah's prey has been overhunted by people. Scientists have also found that many cheetahs suffer from genetic defects due to inbreeding, possibly the result of a population bottleneck—a sharp decline—that occurred perhaps as far back as 10,000 years ago. Among other things, inbreeding could raise cub mortality, lower cheetahs' resistance to disease, and cause infertility. An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 wild cheetahs survive. Cheetah strongholds, where possible, must be connected to allow genetic interchange if this species is to survive. Also, conflict between cheetahs and humans needs to be moderated. For example, in Namibia, ranchers may legally shoot cheetahs that prey on livestock.
A sprinting cheetah can reach 45 miles per hour within 2.5 seconds. Top speed—up to 64 miles per hour—can only be briefly sustained.
In the 16th century, emperors and other royalty hunted gazelles with trained cheetahs.
Cheetahs at one time ranged throughout Africa and southwest Asia. Rulers from ancient Sumeria and Egypt trained cheetahs to hunt with. Marco Polo recorded that Kublai Khan kept a thousand Asian cheetahs, (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) for summer hunts in his native Mongolia. The Mogul emperor Akbar the Great was reported to have nine thousand. The Asian subspecies has now been reduced to an isolated group of around 200 presently living in Iran, and a handful possibly living in northwestern Afghanistan. This is the same area where the now-extinct Caspian Tiger made it's last stand. The last three cheetahs in India were killed in 1951.
That cheetahs exist anywhere is a miracle in itself. About ten to twelve thousand years ago, the species went through a genetic "bottleneck" when, for some unknown reason, at least 99 percent of the entire world population of cheetahs died in a very short time period. Some scientists have even suggested that the population might have gotten as low as one pregnant female. By comparison, there are between 30 and 50 Florida Panthers left and they are so inbred that the cubs are starting to be born with heart defects.
As a result of the population crash, and the subsequent inbreeding, a male cheetah has a sperm count that is 90 percent lower than tigers' and lions'. On top of that, 75 percent of the sperm that IS produced is abnormal. If cheetahs were livestock, they would be classified as infertile.
Modern cheetahs are as genetically identical as lab mice...virtual clones...which is why it is particularly interesting that an aberrant coat pattern could appear. So in 1926, reports that a cheetah with black stripes down it's back, and splotches instead of spots, had been seen in Zimbabwe began speculation that a new, rare breed of cheetah, the "King Cheetah", was stalking the plains of southern Africa.
A man with an extremely cool name, Reginald Innes Pocock, was convinced that it was a new species and in 1927 named it Acinonyx rex...but the animal was only to be sighted five more times between then and 1974 when one was finally photographed in South Africa's Kruger National Park.
Debate then ensued about whether the king cheetah was a separate species, subspecies, or color phase. It was even suggested that they were leopard-cheetah hybrids when some analysts noticed that the cuticular scale pattern from a king cheetah's hair more closely resembled that of a leopard than that of a normal cheetah.
The question was answered in the early 1980's when king cheetahs were born as a result of a pairing of normal cheetahs at the De Wildt Cheetah Center in South Africa. Since then two additional kings have been wild-caught, but the majority of the world population of king cheetahs (est. <50) are descendants of the De Wildt cats.
The unique coat pattern is now known to be the result of a mutation inherited as a single autosomal recessive allele.
The only mystery that remains is this. If ALL cheetahs are virtual genetic clones...why is there only one account of a king cheetah from outside southernmost Africa?...and while I'm at it...Why is the Asian Cheetah classed as a different subspecies if they are all the same? Is it a "cultural" thing?
The King Cheetah is an extremely rare, regal and strikingly beautiful animal. At one time it was considered to be a separate subspecies. Main difference between our King Cheetah and the normal standard spotted Cheetah is that its coat pattern differs distinctively. The standard Cheetah's coat is generally a yellow or golden color with a circular spotted pattern of small black markings. The King Cheetah has spots that run together to form several (usually three) black stripes down its back from the crest of its neck to the top of the tail. They also sport dark patch shaped markings, irregular in size and shape along their sides and flanks.
There are estimated to be less than ten king cheetah living in the wild and the total world population is around 60 animals. Most of the ones in captivity were bred at the De Wildt Cheetah Centre in South Africa, which has been very successful in raising them.
Cheetahs are the only big cats that can’t roar.
Today the Asiatic cheetah lives only in a remote corner of Iran.
Mortality rates for cheetah cubs in Africa run as high as 95%.