The cheetah is a carnivorous animal belonging to the family of Felidae and its scientific name is Acinonyx jubatus which is a subspecies of wild Acinonyx jubatus. Cheetahs are mostly found in the broad section of Africa including areas of North Africa, the southern, and eastern Africa. The cheetahs are also found in Iran. Cheetahs belong to the class of Mammalia and they are carnivorous animals.
To understand ‘What a cheetah is?’, it is very important to know everything about cheetahs in detail. So, let us begin with what a cheetah is by knowing its scientific name, cheetah characteristics like its weight, size, etc, cheetah’s habitat, classification of cheetahs, and lastly, we will learn about cheetahs anatomy.
What is a Cheetah?
The cheetah is a carnivorous animal that is mostly found in the wild forest of Africa. Cheetahs are also found in Iran. Cheetahs are the fastest land animals and they can outrun any animal. They belong to the family of Felidae that is cats and that subfamily of feline. Cheetahs are carnivore mammals and are very good at hunting because of their speed. Cheetahs are mainly active during the day and they hunt mostly in the early morning and late afternoons. They do this to avoid competition from other big cats such as lions and leopards.
Cheetahs eat a variety of small animals such as rabbits, antelopes, and deer. They also eat birds. Cheetahs are mainly known for their speed and have evolved many adaptations that usually enhance their ability to sprint. They have long legs when compared to other cats, they have an elongated spine. non-retractable claws, special paw pads that help them in holding the ground for a firm grip while they run. They also have an elongated tail which helps them in balancing their body while they run.
Cheetahs can cover up to 5oo metre in 60 seconds. They usually stop to avoid overheating and allow their muscles to recover. While chasing the prey, the cheetah’s body temperature rises so high that after successfully catching the prey, it usually breathes and takes rest for another 30 minutes before eating on its prey.
What is the Scientific Name of the Cheetah?
The scientific name of any species is a method of naming in the binomial nomenclature. The first name is the genus that identifies the family to which it belongs and the second part is species that identifies the specificity within that family. They also have subspecies for some categories.
So the answer to what is the scientific name of cheetah is Acinonyx jubatus belonging to the Felidae family and feline as the subfamily. Acinonyx is its generic name and is derived from combining two Greek words which are akinitos meaning motionless or unmoved and onyx meaning nails.
The species name of a cheetah is jubatus which is a Latin word that means crested or having a mane.
Anatomy of Cheetah
The anatomy of the cheetah includes the cheetah’s body part and its health.
An adult cheetah weighs up to 34 to 64 kilograms and they are 77m tall at the shoulder and 112 to 142 centimetres long and their tail lengths up to 84 centimetres. The newborn cub’s weight up to 150-300g at birth. Cheetahs are sexually dimorphic animals as a result of which the male is heavier than females.
Cheetahs are mostly found in the broad section of Africa including areas of North Africa, the southern, and eastern Africa. The cheetahs are also found in Iran and they are called Iranian cheetahs. Cheetahs have become extinct in over 13 countries because of the habitat loss and hunting done by humans. Cheetahs live in a variety of habitats including grasslands, savannahs, dense vegetation, and mountain terrains.
The maximum speed of cheetah: When it comes to speed, no other animal can come close to cheetah speed. The cheetah can outrun all the animals such as dears. Cheetahs run up to 112km/hours in 3 seconds. Cheetahs can cover up to 500m in 60 seconds and it has to stop to avoid overheating and allows its muscles to recover.
Types of Cheetahs
Cheetahs are divided into five types based on their subspecies -
1. The Asiatic cheetah - It is also known as the Iranian cheetah. It is the rarest of all the cheetah subspecies and is only found in Iran. Asiatic cheetah was once widespread across the Arabian Peninsula, near the east, and even in India. It is a critically endangered species according to IUCN. The Iranian cheetah, a light fawn-coloured fur, and its neck exhibit small black spots that are arranged in lines.
2. Northwest African cheetah - It is also known as the Saharan Cheetah and they are the native of Northwest Africa. Only about 250 adult Saharan cheetah survive in the wild and hence IUCN has declared it as the critically endangered subspecies of the cheetah. The face lacks spots and even the tear stripes on the body are often missing. It has a white colour coat and has spots that are gradually fading from the back on the back and brown on the legs.
3. South African cheetah - They are also called Namibian cheetahs. This subspecies of a cheetah can be found in the savannahs of the Okavango Delta, grasslands of the Transvaal, Namibia, and the areas of Kalahari. Due to human hunters, this species faces a threat of extinction. The South African cat has a bright yellow coat and a white underside. The spots of the animal are very dense and are very distinct on their face.
4. Sudan cheetah - It is also known as the Somali cheetah, Sudan cheetah, and central African cheetah. They live in the deserts and grassland areas of Central and Northeast Africa. These cheetahs are threatened due to habitat loss and hunting done by humans, hence they are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN. The black dorsal spots are widely spread across the body but there are no spots present on the hind legs.
5. Tanzanian cheetah - It is also known as the Kenyan Cheetah or the East African cheetah. It is the native of East Africa. They are termed as vulnerable species due to various reasons like habitat loss, hunting, and cheetah cub mortality. These animals have gone extinct in countries like Burundi and Rwanda. When it comes to size it is the largest cheetah subspecies measuring between 110 to 135cm from head to the body. This subspecies of cheetah has numerous round black spots in most parts of the body except the white underside. These spots merge towards the tail end to form 4 to 14 dark rings with a white tuft at the tail tip.
What Do Cheetahs Eat?
Cheetahs are carnivorous and they eat a variety of animals. Cheetahs are a type of predator that hunts in the early morning or early afternoons to avoid competition from other big cats such as lions and leopards. Cheetahs eat small antelopes including springbok and gazelles. They also eat large animals such as kudu, oryx, etc. They eat rabbits and birds as well.
The advantage cheetah has over other animals is its speed as it allows them to catch their prey easily. Cheetahs at the zoo are fed up with 35 pounds of beef meat each day either early morning or late afternoon.
Where Do Cheetahs Live?
Cheetahs are mostly found in eastern and southern Africa. In eastern and southern Africa, Cheetahs are mostly found in Savannas like the Serengeti. In the northern and western Africa region, Cheetahs prefer to live at the mountain ranges and valleys. Because of the harsh climate of the Sahara desert, Cheetah prefers to live in high mountains as it receives high rainfall. Cheetah’s habitat is also found in Iran, where they prefer to live in the hilly terrain of deserts.
The average weight of cheetahs is between 34 to 72 kgs and adult male cheetahs are always larger than female cheetahs.
The following are some Cheetah facts that will help you learn more about this species.
Cheetah can be mostly found in Sub Saharan Africa where they roam freely in the open forests. A small population of cheetahs could be found in Iran.
These big cats weigh up to 34 to 75 kilograms and males weigh higher than females.
Cheetah’s bodies grow between 1.1m to 1.4m long and their tails measure between 65cm to 80cm.
Cheetahs faces are distinguished from other cats u having prominent, black lines that curve from the inner corner of there each eye to the outer corners of their mouths
Cheetah’s body is a work of art itself as it is built of speed. It has long legs, an elongated spine and they have firm claws that help to have a grip on the ground while they run. They also have a long tail to maintain balance while they run.
Cheetahs can run up to 112km/hour in just 3 seconds that is even faster than most of the sports can which is present these days.
Cheetahs are carnivorous animals and live their life by feeding on other animals like deers, rabbits, antelopes, etc.
Cheetahs use their extraordinary speed for hunting their prey. They hunt during the day to avoid competition from other big cats such as a lion and a group of hyenas.
Cheetahs are beautiful animals that are threatened by the loss of habitats and prey.
Cheetahs are classified as vulnerable animals as there are only 9000 to 12000 Cheetahs left in Africa.
FAQs on Cheetah
1. Can a Cheetah Kill a Lion?
Ans- Cheetahs are the fastest animals on the land but they don’t have enough strength to haul their prey up in trees like a leopard or have much physical strength to go against a lion. So, cheetahs cannot defend themselves against a much larger and stronger animal such as a lion and therefore they tend to hunt when other prey is inactive.
2. How Smart is a Cheetah?
Ans- Cheetahs are very smart when you compare them with other members of their cat family. While the lion is all about strength when it hunts the cheetah in the forest have invented new ways to hunt their prey without getting involved with other predators. Cheetahs stalk their prey carefully before hunting it.
3. How Rare is a King Cheetah?
Ans- Kind cheetahs are very rare and it is estimated that there are only 59 left around the world. Most of the rare king Cheetahs are protected in a park or wildlife reserves.