Cats are all unique in their own ways, but certain felines tend to stand out from the crowd for their remarkable capabilities and interesting appearances. For instance, the cheetah has long fascinated people with its stealthy manner, spotted coat, and incredible speed.
According to the African Wildlife Foundation, cheetahs are the fastest animals on land, reaching speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. In fact, cheetahs can actually go from zero to 60 mph in just three seconds.
However, they can only maintain these high speeds for about a minute. Their normal running speed is around 40 mph.
Naturally, cheetahs are outfitted with several features that make them built for speed, agility, and hunting. They have lengthy, limber legs, a tall, graceful neck, a flexible spine, special pads on their feet to help with traction, and a long tail used for balance. The cheetah also has claws that do not retract, making them the only cat without the ability to do so.
Additionally, cheetahs have small, round heads and distinctive, black, tear-like streaks on their faces that provide anti-glare protection from the sun during the day when they hunt.
They primarily prey on small antelopes, mammals, and birds. Some of the cheetah’s prey can be pretty fast themselves, so using speed to outrun the smaller animals is necessary to take them down.
In general, cheetahs are solitary animals. They may be seen together during mating season, but other than that, they usually keep to themselves. Cubs will stick around their mothers for a while, though, as they learn how to hunt. Sadly, there is a high mortality rate among cheetah cubs.
Within their first three months of life, about 50 to 75 percent of them will die due to disease or predators, such as eagles, lions, and hyenas.
These large cats are found across Africa, but their dwindling numbers have kept them contained in the southern and eastern areas of the continent. Over the years, human populations have grown, expanding civilizations and agricultural practices into the grasslands.