The scientific name for cheetah is Acinonyx jubatus. The word cheetah comes from the Hindi word “chita” meaning spotted one.
They are the world’s fastest land animal, getting up to 70 mph. They can do 0-60 in 3 seconds! Top speed can only be maintained for about 330 feet as they tire quickly.
Their spotted coat allows them to blend in with high dry grass. Cheetahs have around 2000 solid black spots, and each cheetah has a unique pattern of spots.
They have excellent eyesight which enables them to spot antelope and hares. The black tear lines under their eyes are believed to protect their eyes from the sun and help them see long distances.
Unlike other big cats, cheetah’s can purr. When I was a kid, a man brought a cheetah to our community hall to educate people about them. Afterwards, he let all the kids come and pet it. When it was my turn, it started to purr when I pet it! Ever since then, they have been my favorite cat.
Another difference between cheetahs and other big cats is that cheetah’s hunt during the day and lions and leopards hunt at night.
Cheetah’s are considered a lesser cat because they cannot roar. The greater cats are able to roar because their hyoid bone is only partly ossified and is more flexible. Lesser cats have a completely ossified hyoid bone which is more rigid and does not allow them to roar, but it allows them to purr. Lions and leopards can make noises similar to a purr, but it is not considered a true purr.
Cheetahs in the wild can be found in eastern and southern Africa. As of 2016, there were believed to be 7100 left in Africa. There is a subspecies of cheetah known as the Asiatic, Iranian, or Persian cheetah that is critically endangered with less than 50 remaining in Iran as of December 2017. Cheetahs also used to be found in Asia and India with the last seen in India in 1951.
Check out these cheetah notebooks I made. They can be purchased on Amazon!
Watch this National Geographic video if you’d like to learn some additional cheetah facts.