<i>WET AND WILD: </i>Cheetah moms have four to six cubs. It’s Mom’s job to teach her cubs how to survive in the dry, open grasslands of Africa and Asia.<br>
WET AND WILD: Cheetah moms have four to six cubs. It’s Mom’s job to teach her cubs how to survive in the dry, open grasslands of Africa and Asia.
Photograph by Paul and Paveena Mckenzie, Visuals Unlimited, Getty Images

Cheetah

Fastest mammal on land, the cheetah can reach speeds of 60 or perhaps even 70 miles (97 or 113 kilometers) an hour over short distances. It usually chases its prey at only about half that speed, however. After a chase, a cheetah needs half an hour to catch its breath before it can eat.

Common Name:
Cheetah
Scientific Name:
Acinonyx jubatus
Type:
Mammals
Diet:
Carnivore
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

The cheetah's excellent eyesight helps it find prey during the day. The cheetah is hard to see because its spotted coat blends with the tall, dry grass of the plains. Suddenly, the cheetah makes a lightning dash. It knocks its prey to the ground and then bites its throat. Once found throughout Asia and Africa, cheetahs today are racing toward extinction. Loss of habitat and declining numbers of their prey combine to threaten the future of these cats. Cheetahs live and hunt mainly in open grasslands and bushy areas in parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Cheetahs eat small- to medium-size animals, such as hares, impalas, wildebeest calves, and gazelles.

Because of their size, strength, and predatory skills, cheetahs are considered one of the “big cats.” Tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, and cougars are also part of this grouping.

Take the big cat quiz to see how much you know about these fierce felines. Then, just for fun, see which wild cat you’re most like with our personality quiz.