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Acinonyx jubatus

Description - Other Names - Distribution - Taxonomy

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Silhouette

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Cheetah © R Hann

Cheetahs favour wide open plains and avoid densely wooded or mountainous regions. In open grassland with scattered patches of trees, they run their prey down in a short burst of very high speed. Cheetahs have been known to reach speeds of 100 km/h in these short chases. To watch such a chase and witness the astonishing acceleration displayed by a cheetah intent on felling its prey, provides a scene few other larger predators can rival.

Head of a cheetah showing the characteristic black 'tear-mark' © M WitneyThey are often found in groups of two or three, and roam over large areas. Unlike leopards, they are more active by day, and also have solid black spots all over the body. Most characteristic is the black 'tear-mark' running from the inside of each eye down to the outside of the mouth. Lanky, streamlined animals, they are built for speed, having long thin legs, a relatively elongate thin chest and abdomen, and a head which is less bulky than that of a leopard. Not so obvious a difference is that cheetah cannot fully retract their claws.

The female gives birth to 1 - 5 cubs after a gestation period of 3 months.


Other Names


Distribution map of the Cheetah
Distribution map
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